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Editorial: Immigration reform puts GOP to the test

FILE - In this April 18 2013 file phoSen. Marco Rubio R-Fla. center other members immigratireform's bipartisan 'Gang Heat' appear

FILE - In this April 18, 2013 file photo, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., center, and other members of immigration reform's bipartisan "Gang of Heat," appear at a Capitol Hill news conference in Washington. Passage of the landmark immigration bill won't be simple. Presidential ambitions alone will see to that, as Rubio, for one, attempts a political straddle while other potential GOP presidential candidates firmly oppose the measure. Rubio, who helped negotiate the bipartisan bill, has recently called for changes as he tries to keep faith with tea party supporters and other conservatives who will vote in the 2016 primaries and caucuses. Speaking at left is Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

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Updated: July 12, 2013 6:20AM

President Barack Obama is scheduled to give a big speech at the White House Tuesday on immigration reform, but everybody knows the real action is down the street at the Capitol Building.

It is there that Senate Republicans must choose whether to finally join with most Democrats in approving a bipartisan overhaul of the nation’s immigration policies — good for the country and good for the GOP — or to again allow a minority of right-wing reactionaries to kill anything that even hints of “amnesty” or of working with Obama.

And should the Senate pass such a bill, it then must get through the House, where Republican dead-enders hold even more sway.

Obama has asked Congress to give him a bill he can sign by the end of summer.

Let’s be clear: The immigration reform bill on the table is the product of hard compromise, and compromise by definition leaves nobody fully satisfied. But this bill, worked out by four Republican senators and four Democratic senators — the “Gang of Eight” — includes strong measures to secure the nation’s borders from future illegal immigration and creates a cautious 13-year path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants who arrived here illegally before 2012.

Much of the criticism of the bill at this point, especially on the matter of border security, comes from senators who say they want to improve the bill but really want to kill it. No amount of border policing will ever satisfy them. No path to citizenship will ever impose high enough hurdles.

And so the question becomes: Who runs the Republican Party? Reasonable people who understand that our nation’s dysfunctional immigration policies are both bad for America and inhumane? Or conservative activists allergic to compromise?

This is the summer of immigration reform. It is also the summer in which the Republican Party, which needs Latino voter support to remain a viable national party, decides its future.

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