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McCain to GOP: Accept path to citizenship in immigration-reform bill

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that the Republican Party has to accept a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants as part of an immigration-reform package.

McCain said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday that a group of bipartisan senators would be announcing “principles” on immigration reform this week, which he said was similar to a plan unveiled during President George W. Bush’s second term that ultimately failed.

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McCain said there’s one big reason that his party has to loosen its opposition to providing a path to citizenship.

“Look at the last election,” he said. “We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours for a variety of reasons, and we’ve got to understand that.”

President Obama is making his own immigration push this week with a speech in Las Vegas. McCain, one of the president’s harshest critics in Congress, said he thinks Obama’s proposals will be “helpful” to the effort in the Senate.

He said there’s a “new appreciation on both sides of the aisle — including maybe importantly on the other side of the aisle” to pass immigration reform.

While McCain’s stance on immigration reform was at odds with much of his party during Bush’s second-term, there are signs that things have changed after the 2012 election.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a speech this week that he was confident a bipartisan immigration bill would pass in this Congress.

McCain said Sunday that something had to be done with the 11 million illegal immigrants “living in the shadows” in the United States.

“I think the time is right,” McCain said.