Sure, it's easy for Republican senators to get all collegial in the confines of their white-granite hallways and talk sweet nothings to the Latino voters who ran the other direction in the 2012 elections. Just wait till they get out and meet their base and try to talk the same sweet nothings to them.
The word came out of the Beltway yesterday that a group of senators from both parties had cobbled together the outlines of a comprehensive immigration-reform bill, just ahead of President Obama's announcement of his own plan:
A bipartisan group of senators has agreed on a set of principles for a sweeping overhaul of the immigration system, including a pathway to American citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants that would hinge on progress in securing the borders and ensuring that foreigners leave the country when their visas expire.
The senators were able to reach a deal by incorporating the Democrats’ insistence on a single comprehensive bill that would not deny eventual citizenship to illegal immigrants, with Republican demands that strong border and interior enforcement had to be clearly in place before Congress could consider legal status for illegal immigrants.
As the L.A. Times story notes, this really is quite a sea change, especially considering the nativist spectacle to which we were treated during the 2012 Republican primary season:
The Senate plan is more conservative than President Obama's proposal, which he plans to unveil Tuesday in a speech in Las Vegas. But its provisions for legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants go further than measures that failed to advance in Congress in previous years — a reminder of how swiftly the politics of immigration have shifted since Latino voters' strong influence in the November election.
It's almost certain that this plan is well short of a progressive plan for immigration reform, but it is at least a start -- particularly given that a path to citizenship is now the preferred model for sensible Republicans, rather than the mass-deportation and self-deportation positions the GOP's nativist wing has favored for so many years.
Of course, simply whispering sweet nothings to Latinos after years of demonizing them is not going to be an easy sell to Latino voters, as Digby explains -- these are not going to be voters who lean conservative in any event.