In Applause, Both Sides Find Glimmer of Hope for Immigration

Immigration reform
Republicans and Democrats seem to think a deal on immigration reform may happen in 2014 Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Cheering was mostly a partisan affair at President Obama’s State of the Union address, but a bout of bipartisanship, at least in applause is giving hope to both sides of the aisle that this will be the year Congress passes immigration reform.

Some Republicans stood up in the chamber when President Obama called for action on the issue, a glimmer of hope for some legislative progress in 2014. “If we're serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, law enforcement -- and fix our broken immigration system,” the president said to cheers.

Obama noticeably left out the word "comprehensive,” a move that ostensibly left room for Republicans piecemeal approach that may leave out reforms that Democrats would prefer, but potentially could live without.

"I think he absolutely held out an olive branch to them and a lot of them took it tonight," said Representative Gerry Connolly, D-Virginia, referring to Obama's tone on the immigration issue.

"If you actually watched who stood up at that point [when Obama addressed immigration reform], lots of Republicans joined Democrats. So I Think that's a positive sign that we have a chance of really making some bipartisan music together on comprehensive immigration reform this year," Connolly said.

Republican Representative James Lankford of Oklahoma, a member of the Republican leadership who recently declared his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, agreed that there may be room for the two parties to work on immigration if the president abandons a comprehensive, all-or-nothing approach.

"If we're going to say, 'let's find the areas of common ground that we have and lets do the common ground areas,' if we can do that great," Lankford said.