(CBS NEWS) -- When President Obama hits the stage at Del Sol High School in Las
Vegas today to talk about immigration reform, he'll be employing a
tactic that he's made standard practice: Rallying public support for a
challenging policy agenda.
This time, however, the situation is a bit different: Unlike issues such as health care reform or tackling the deficit,
the subject of immigration reform has lately inspired a significant
level of cooperation and agreement. A group of eight senators yesterday
unveiled a blueprint for comprehensive immigration reform legislation
that they called "a major breakthrough."
the Senate seemingly one-upped the president, releasing their plan
before his event today, its proposal sits on shaky ground. There are
still a number of Republicans opposed to the idea of "amnesty" for
illegal immigrants, and even those who want to create a pathway to
citizenship for undocumented residents could very easily get bogged down
in the details. If the Senate's plan falls apart, Mr. Obama will be
ready to step in with his own legislative outline, administration
officials tell CBS News.
Mr. Obama today will lay out his vision for immigration reform -- a vision he laid out
in a major immigration speech in El Paso, Texas in May 2011. The
blueprint introduced by the "group of eight" in the Senate is, in fact,
very similar to the president's plan. Most critically, both lay out a
pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
president plans to make the case today that the Senate should act
quickly, and he plans to address the Latino community specifically,
according to administration officials. The latest CBS News poll shows
that voters are increasingly on his side: 51 percent of Americans think
undocumented immigrants working in the U.S. should be able to stay and
apply for citizenship, up from 14 points since September 2011. Another
20 percent of Americans now say undocumented immigrants should stay as
Yesterday, the White House credited the
growing support for a pathway to citizenship -- among the public and in
the Senate -- to Mr. Obama's efforts. Work on immigration reform is
happening now, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, "because a
consensus is developing in the country, a bipartisan consensus. And it's
happening because the president has demonstrated significant leadership
on this issue when the effort to achieve comprehensive immigration
reform did not succeed in 2010, this president continued to press for
Today in Las Vegas, Mr. Obama will have some of his strongest
political allies backing his message. Close to 20 labor union leaders,
along with working families and community partners, are holding their
own even to press for reforms. "This moment calls for this president to
step out boldly on this issue," NAACP President Ben Jealous, who is
working with labor unions on immigration, told reporters yesterday.
the strained relations between the White House and Congress, and
between Democrats and Republicans, some lawmakers' first instinct may be
one of distrust any deals that materializing, especially if the
president tries to stake out ownership of it.
"We are not
going to just rubber stamp what the president of the United States has
just decided," Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said on the Senate floor
yesterday. "We do need to ask some serious questions about any proposal,
and maybe we can work forward with some legislation that would serve
the national interest, maybe we can do it on a bipartisan basis, but
it's going to take real attention to details, the details is what makes
the difference and that is what I'm concerned about."
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., similarly said in a statement,
"This effort is too important to be written in a back room and sent to
the floor with a take-it-or-leave it approach. It needs to be done on a
bipartisan basis and include ideas from both sides of the aisle."
McConnell said he hoped the president today would endorse a "bipartisan
approach rather than delivering another divisive partisan speech."
Even Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., one of the senators in the "gang of eight" that's building the bipartisan blueprint, said last week
on the Mark Levin radio show that "there's no such thing as an honest
policy disagreement with the left anymore. If you disagree with them,
you're a bad person." Still, Rubio and the rest of the "gang of eight"
said they're more optimistic than ever that a comprehensive deal will be reached.