The Ticket

Sean Hannity, John Boehner say GOP should tackle immigration reform

Liz Goodwin
The Ticket

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Sean Hannity (AP)

Well, that was fast.

Just two days after President Barack Obama won a second term, boosted by more than 70 percent of the Latino vote, some Republicans are striking a new tone on illegal immigration.

Conservative Fox News and radio host Sean Hannity said Thursday that his views on immigration have "evolved." Hannity continued:

We've gotta get rid of the immigration issue altogether. It's simple for me to fix it. I think you control the border first, you create a pathway for those people that are here, you don't say you gotta go home. And that is a position that I've evolved on. Because you know what—it just—it's gotta be resolved. The majority of people here—if some people have criminal records you can send 'em home—but if people are here, law-abiding, participating, four years, their kids are born here ... first secure the border, pathway to citizenship ... then it's done. But you can't let the problem continue. It's gotta stop.

Meanwhile, in an interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer, House Speaker John Boehner said he is "confident" the two parties can agree to a deal on immigration.

"This issue has been around far too long," Boehner said. "A comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I'm confident that the president, myself, others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all."

Just two years ago, Boehner said it was worth considering amending the U.S. Constitution to end birthright citizenship, because he said it might discourage people from illegally crossing the border. Boehner was also opposed to President George W. Bush's attempt to pass immigration reform.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who supports immigration reform, said on CBS on Friday that Republicans had sent "mixed messages" about immigration. "On the immigration issue, which turned out to be very important, and some issues about women, too, some mixed messages were sent," she said.

The party has been searching for answers about why Mitt Romney lost what seemed like a very winnable election. Many within the party have pointed to the GOP's demographics problem: Romney lost every group except for white voters, which is a shrinking portion of the electorate. Latinos this year made up 10 percent of all voters, according to the national exit poll, a share that will only grow each election. Like other groups, most Latino voters say they care most about jobs and the economy, but 35 percent of them listed immigration reform as their top issue in a poll conducted by Latino Decisions. Latino Decisions' poll found that Romney would have won the popular vote if he had managed to win even just 35 percent of the Latino vote, a share Bush easily won in 2000 and 2004.

Latino voter and advocacy groups have said they expect both Obama and congressional Republicans to work together to pass immigration reform in 2013.

Eliseo Medina, secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, told reporters that Latino voters had sent a message to Obama. "We expect leadership on comprehensive immigration reform in 2013," he said. "To both sides we say: 'No more excuses.'"

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