The Common Good

Praising Immigrants, Bush Leads Conservative Appeal for G.O.P. to Soften Tone

Date: December 4, 2012

In Washington, leaders of a coalition that unites conservative law enforcement officials and clergy with business leaders — they described themselves as “Bibles, badges and business” — held a strategy session Tuesday on how to push for a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws, which would include “a road to lawful status and citizenship” for 11 million illegal immigrants.

While several of the conservatives meeting here had expressed their support for legalization measures, they sought to enhance their influence in the coming debate by joining forces.

President Obama, acknowledging the central role of Latino support in his re-election, has said he intends to start the immigration debate early next year. Already, groups that favor legalization are assessing whether they should push for a path to citizenship as well as an overhaul of the immigration system, which is widely regarded as dysfunctional.

Some organizations argue that taking the thorny issues in smaller parts would be more likely to produce results, particularly since many House Republicans remain opposed to any amnesty for illegal immigrants.