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Why immigration reform will happen

It didn't take President Obama's State of the Union speech last week to light the fire under immigration reform. That was done more than three months ago when Latino voters cast more than seven of every 10 votes for the Democratic incumbent.

The Republicans, it appears, have also received the message: Do something about a broken immigration system or become as irrelevant as yesterday's news.

"Our economy is stronger when we harness the talents and ingenuity of striving, hopeful immigrants," said the president. "And right now, leaders from the business, labor, law enforcement, and faith communities all agree that the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform."

Obama could have added Republicans and Democrats to that list. Why a sudden change? Well, in addition to the Latino vote lashing out at spiteful Republican rhetoric and draconian state laws, credit must go to students who were brought sans document into this country when they were very young. The so-called DREAMers refused to take no for an answer. At a time when few others were pressing for immigration reform, the students pressured the president to issue an executive order to stop the deportation of qualified residents between the ages of 15 and 31.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is not an ideal solution, but it is a start. There was little more the president could have done. Anything more depends on Congress.

DREAMers, who cannot vote, were able to make an impact on presidential election by keeping their plight -- and that of an estimated 11 million undocumented residents -- in the media spotlight. They continue to keep the pressure on lawmakers, demanding that a final bill must include a path to citizenship.

The DREAMers refuse to back down. That is why immigration reform will happen.

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