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U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Senate Majority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) listen during a news conference on a comprehensive immigration reform framework Photo by: Getty Images

Irresistible momentum as immigration reform in Washington barrels toward Congress

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U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Senate Majority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) listen during a news conference on a comprehensive immigration reform framework Photo by: Getty Images

The decision of eight senators to work together on immigration reform across party lines looks like it is truly working out.

Over the weekend a critical part of their discussion reached fruition when the county’s largest unions and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reached agreement on a new guest worker program.

Such an agreement should not be underestimated.  A huge part of the problem concerning recent efforts at immigration reform involved guest workers, which union leaders felt threatened American workers and Republican groups maintained were necessary for employers, especially in the agricultural area.

One by one it seems each obstacle to comprehensive immigration reform is being tackled successfully. It is great credit to the senators involved.

None have been more resourceful than New York Senator Charles Schumer and his Republican counterparts, Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain.

It now looks likely that a bill, agreed by all sides, will be offered when Congress returns from its Easter recess, though Senator Marco Rubio of Florida cautioned about problems still remaining.
There seems to be an irresistible momentum in the Senate, however, to send an agreed plan to the House and the White House.

Some optimists believe that over 70 senators could sign on to the final bill, a massive number that sends a clear signal.

The House, of course, is Republican controlled and is likely to have a more hardline bill emerge; eventually a conference between both sides would take place.

From the Irish perspective, the latest developments after years of delay and frustration seem almost too good to be true -- and they may well be.

Remember, Senators Edward Kennedy and McCain worked on a similar bill several years back. They seemed to have reached agreement and earned enough backing to clear the Senate, but it all fell apart very rapidly.

That is why no one is counting their chickens just yet, and why the harsh reality that a week is a long time in politics still prevails.  But the signs are very hopeful.

Underpinning all this is the reality that elections have consequences and that Republicans now recognize that the White House is essentially out of their grasp if they cannot begin to win back Latino voters.

In the end politics is very much about self-interest, and the political stakes for the Republicans in particular are very high.

If they somehow fail to deliver it will alienate even more Hispanic votes and surely damage their brand.

If you consider California, where both houses have massive Democratic majorities, initially because of anti-Latino policies by the GOP, the Republicans can see the bleak future if there is no effort to woo the Hispanic vote.

It seems they have come to their senses, but it still remains a major undertaking to pass comprehensive reform.

However, the signs are looking good.

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