Will Immigration Reform Be Overlooked in Congress?

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The window to pass immigration laws next year is narrowing, as the effort competes with a renewed debate over gun laws and the lingering fight over taxes and the budget, according to congressional staffers and outside advocates.

Key congressional committees are preparing for a package of gun control laws to be negotiated and possibly introduced in Congress during the first few months of next year. The shift would push the debate in Congress over immigration reform into the spring.

But as budget negotiations continue to stir tensions between Republicans and Democrats, and as lobbyists take to their corners over gun laws, some are concerned that the heated atmosphere could spoil the early signs of bipartisan cooperation on immigration that emerged after the election.

In phone calls over the holidays, White House officials sought to reassure advocates that the push for gun control won't distract President Barack Obama from his promise to stump for new immigration legislation early next year.

The uncertainty is feeding jitters that Obama may be unable to deliver on his long-standing promise to create a path to citizenship for the 11 million people in the U.S. unlawfully.

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