Like everyone else, the Hispanic community breathed a sigh of relief when the House passed legislation late on Tuesday to avert a tax increase for households making less than $450,000. Latinos are now bracing for the next stage of the fight on spending, hoping to protect government investments in workers, education, and infrastructure.
But that doesn't mean Hispanics have forgotten about immigration, the issue that brought them to the forefront of politics and is expected to take center stage this year if President Obama gets his way.
For their part, White House officials know that they can't wait for easier political times to push on immigration. With 72 percent of Hispanics casting their votes for Obama in November, the White House's political clout on immigration is the strongest it's going to get. "You can't wait for a completely cloudless day to enjoy the sun," said Angela Kelley, vice president of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress.
White House officials have a little bit of time — maybe a month or two — to figure
out how they want to roll out Obama's immigration plan, which would include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and stronger enforcement of illegal-immigrant labor. On the one hand, they don't want to hand their critics talking points that say the White House is offering lip service only, Kelley said. On the other hand, they don't want to appear as though they are writing legislation without input from Congress.