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Does Obama's re-election bring new hope for immigration reform? Photo by: Saul Loeb, 2012 AFP

New hope for comprehensive immigration reform as Republicans learn tough lessons with Barack Obama’s re-election

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Does Obama's re-election bring new hope for immigration reform? Photo by: Saul Loeb, 2012 AFP

We have had our hopes dashed so often on immigration reform that the latest stirrings have to be viewed through a cynical lens.

With up to 50,000 Irish undocumented in the United States we have a major stake in this issue. We also need to ensure that a future flow that can come legally here.

Forgive our initial pessimism as we have been here before with Kennedy/McCain most recently, when immigration reform seemed doable but hopes were dashed.

However, when Sean Hannity, Charles Krauthammer, GOP House Speaker John Boehner and Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham all suddenly begun emoting in favor of comprehensive reform, then something has fundamentally changed.

Sure, we need to heed the health warning after so many false starts on the issue, but amazingly, this time it is the Republicans who appear to be driving the agenda.

A crushing election defeat and the need to re-examine what went wrong is the new normal for the GOP.

The clear victory of Barack Obama and the continued shift in both the numbers and pro-Democratic leaning of the Hispanic community have everything to do with the new mood.

The GOP learned a hard lesson in this election that when you demonize and insult the massive and fastest growing community in the U.S., they will show a propensity to hit back.

Republicans also insulted single women with their talk of legitimate rape, and that got them in deep difficulty. Indeed, as former Bush staffer Nicolle Wallace said, the next GOP candidate who discusses rape in such negative terms should have his manhood removed.

Read more: President Obama expects immigration reform bill will be introduced in late January - VIDEO

How does Hispanic bashing look now? Over 60 percent of Hispanics who voted who were polled knew someone who was illegal. Almost 100 percent wanted a move on immigration reform.

That is a lot of people and a lot of votes when they are counted up as the GOP learned to its cost.

So the rush towards reform is the realization now that Colorado and Nevada have turned blue and may never be coming back, and that states like Texas and Arizona may be next.

It is amazing that a massive state like California seems gone to Republicansforever now, with the GOP vote under 40 percent there and a veto proof majority of two-thirds in both the California Senate and House for Democrats.

We should note that the alienation started with heavy-handed immigration legislation under former Governor Pete Wilson.

The GOP now knows it must get back onside with the largest constituency which is voting against them. Immigration reform they see as that vehicle, and like typical politicians everywhere they will desert their mother ship to hail the new passing trend ship.

It is all good news so far, and Senator Charles Schumer was quickly on deck to flag that Democrats were ready to work on the issue.

What must happen next is that all efforts must proceed with all available speed. This will likely be a big bill addressing not just undocumented but a revamp of the legal system, one that favors professional skills more.

The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform will be keeping a close eye on the latest developments, ready to support legislation if and when it happens.

Elections do change things. One of the outcomes of this one is that the hopes for immigration reform, so negative for so long, have suddenly brightened.

But we are counting no chickens yet.

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