Immigration bill splits GOP on national-local line

Last Updated: Sat, Feb 02, 2013 13:30 hrs

The immigration debate is threatening to pit Republicans who focus mainly on presidential elections against those who concentrate on congressional races.

Strategists say Republicans must soften their rhetoric about illegal immigrants if they want to win presidential elections. The fast-growing Hispanic electorate has sided heavily with Democrats in recent elections.

But granting illegal residents a pathway to citizenship is deeply unpopular in many House Republicans' districts.

President Barack Obama wants such a pathway. So do some prominent GOP lawmakers.

Their plans differ on when and how citizenship might occur. Border security is a big sticking point.

Some GOP strategists say converting millions of illegal Hispanic residents into citizens might produce large numbers of new voters who will lean Democratic for years.

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