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Behind the maneuvering over immigration, both parties look for advantage

The White House has floated a plan that would allow illegal immigrants to become permanent residents of the United States, putting them on a path to eventual citizenship. Republicans aren't happy, but they're under pressure to back comprehensive immigration reform.

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Immigrant-rights advocates gather near Ellis Island Feb. 13 in Liberty State Park, Jersey City, N.J., before marching to an immigrant detention center in northern New Jersey to protest the immigrant detention system.

Mel Evans/AP

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The White House floats an idea that would allow illegal immigrants to become permanent residents of the United States, putting them on a path to eventual citizenship. GOP immigration point man and designated party Hispanic Sen. Marco Rubio swats it down as “dead on arrival.” White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough pushes back, saying (in essence), “Fine. If you don’t like it, then get your congressional colleagues to come up with a better idea.”

That’s a 24-hour snapshot of the latest maneuvering between the Obama administration and Republican lawmakers over one of the most contentious and potentially profound issues in Washington today.

The White House draft plan (first reported by USA Today) would allow illegal immigrants to become legal permanent residents (“green card” holders) within eight years.

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“The plan also would provide for more security funding and requires business owners to check the immigration status of new hires within four years,” USA Today reported Saturday. “In addition, the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants could apply for a newly created ‘Lawful Prospective Immigrant’ visa, under the draft bill being written by the White House. If approved, they could then apply for the same provisional legal status for their spouse or children living outside the country, according to the draft.”

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