Poll: Majority back path to citizenship under immigration reform

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Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have said they hope to move on the issue, but the parties are split over which measures to approve.

A report last week said Obama intends to push a comprehensive bill that would create a pathway to citizenship for most illegal immigrants. The plan would also institute a national verification system and a guest-worker program. 

Obama spoke of his wish to enact immigration reform in his second inaugural address on Monday. 

“Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity,” said the president, who also touched on the need to boost the number of high-skilled immigrants coming to the U.S.

Many GOP lawmakers have said they would oppose efforts at allowing citizenship, however, calling such measures “amnesty.” Republicans have instead called for strengthening border security. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) warned last week that any immigration bill must include opportunities for citizenship. 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a GOP leader on the issue, unveiled a plan earlier in the month that calls for a path to citizenship, but with illegal immigrants being forced to pay fines and back taxes. 

Rubio has been working to rally conservative support behind his plan, with many Republicans eager to court Hispanic voters, who strongly backed President Obama in the 2012 election.

The plan was backed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the White House offered measured praise, saying the proposal “boded well” for prospects of reaching a deal.