“With the healthcare battle still unfinished, the Obama administration has been laying plans to take up an issue that could prove even more divisive -- a major overhaul of the nation's immigration system. Senior White House aides privately have assured Latino activists that the president will back legislation next year to provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. In a recent conference call with proponents, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, political director Patrick Gaspard and others delivered the message that the White House was committed to seeing a substantial immigration bill pass and wanted to make sure allies were prepared for the fight. In addition to the citizenship provision, the emerging plan will emphasize efforts to secure U.S. borders against those trying to cross illegally. But that two-track approach was rejected repeatedly in the past by Republicans and other critics who insist that a border crackdown must demonstrate its effectiveness before any action on citizenship is considered.”