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Immigration likely next civil rights crusade

| Sunday, June 23, 2013, 8:36 p.m.
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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 23: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks about the debt ceiling, on January 23, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Senate Democrats discussed the House's scheduled vote on suspending the debt ceiling. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Washington may again be the site of huge civil rights rallies, this time pressuring the Republican-led House of Representatives to approve a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, a key Democrat said on Sunday.

With the Senate set to approve its White House-backed bill this week, Sen. Chuck Schumer, an author of a bipartisan bill that would allow about 11 million immigrants to eventually become U.S. citizens, said he expects House Speaker John Boehner will soon have “no choice” but to let pass a Democratic-backed immigration bill.

However, if Boehner tries to bottle up a bill that includes eventual citizenship, Schumer said, “I could envision in the late summer or early fall ... a million people on the mall in Washington,” demanding action.

“This has the potential of becoming the next major civil rights movement,” Schumer told CNN's “State of the Union,” conjuring up memories of rallies in the 1960s that resulted in landmark anti-discrimination and voting rights legislation for African-Americans.

Boehner's Republican Party has said it needs to support comprehensive immigration reform to make the party more attractive to Hispanics, the fastest growing voting bloc.

Yet Boehner, facing pressure from many of the House's most conservative members, said last week that he would not bring any immigration bill up for a vote unless most Republicans back it. A Senate test vote is set for Monday, with passage of the bill expected on Thursday.

Strong bipartisan Senate support was assured last week with a $40 billion deal that doubles to about 40,000 the number of federal agents on the U.S.-Mexican border.

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