Unlikely Friendship Could Be the Key to Immigration Reform

Immigration ReformAccording to a recent New York Times article, two women on opposite sides of the political spectrum might be the key to seeing immigration reform in the U.S.  Rebecca Tallent, a Republican, is a top aide in House Speaker John Boehner’s office, and former chief of staff to John McCain and advisor to Sarah Palin. Esther Olavarria, a Democrat, holds a post in the White House and was Senator Edward Kennedy’s top immigration lawyer.

Ms. Tallent and Ms. Olavarria built a friendship 10 years ago while they painstakingly tried to unify lawmakers around immigration reform through a series of “back-room deal-making sessions” while working under Senators McCain and Kennedy.

The two women are again attempting to pull the parties together to find a path forward on an immigration overhaul. Ms. Tallent is taking a central role in penning, what “House Republicans call guiding principles for an immigration overhaul.” Ms. Olavarria is responsible for constructing a compromise that will satisfy Democrats and activists.

The prospects for immigration reform seem brighter this time around. Latinos, a demographic that played a significant role in both of Mr. Obama’s elections to the Whitehouse, place continued pressure on the Obama administration to end its deportation practices and create a road to citizenship for undocumented populations.  At the same time, immigration reform is seen by many Republicans as a chance to repair the relationship it has with Hispanic voters.

Despite the current optimism, some are still skeptical, believing that more is needed for reform “than excellent staffers.”

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