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Pelosi: 'Optimistic' on passage of immigration reform

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"I'm very optimistic that we will, before too long and certainly this year, have comprehensive immigration reform," she said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The Senate passed an immigration reform package earlier this week on a 68-32 vote, but its future in the House remains uncertain. Conservatives refuse to support the bill because they believe it lacks adequate border security provisions, and because they're opposed to a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country.

But Pelosi said she feels Republicans in the House will warm up to the proposal when they reflect on the electoral implications of its failure, and that the GOP's poor showing with Hispanics in 2012 contributed to reform passing the Senate.

"We wouldn't even be where we are right now had it not been that 70 percent of Hispanics voted for President Obama in the last election," she said, adding that the stark margin "caused an epiphany in the Senate."

"I believe that the members of Congress, many more than are directly affected themselves by the number of Hispanics in their district, will do what is right for our country," she said. "And it's certainly right for the Republicans if they ever want to win a presidential race."