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Inside the Boiler Room: Immigration reform in Obama's 2nd term

As President Obama prepares for his second term, NBC's Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro discuss the legislation that may define his next four years in office: immigration reform.


Thanks Maxx the Moocher for the question!

Video edited by NBC's Matt Loffman.



MARK MURRAY: Domenico, we have another Inside the Boiler Room questions and this actually comes from Maxx the Moocher, I think this is Maxx's first question to us, so welcome Maxx. Maxx asks, "What will be the President's "signature" piece of legislation for a second term?"

DOMENICO MONTANARO: Well we know in the first term it was health care, or he would like it to be health care. I think that once we get past the fiscal cliff

stuff the biggest piece of legislation we are going to see is going to be on immigration reform. I really think that Republicans more so than their stepping away from a pledge on Grover Norquist which is pretty minor to be honest. You've heard much more-- you have seen much more of a thaw on immigration reform after they saw those demographic numbers and that their pollsters were wrong about their assumptions that were going to be made, and that the Census data in fact shows Latinos actually under performing what their percentages, they make up almost 17 percent, only 10 percent showed up at the polls this time around. That is only going to grow. Republicans see that, they know that is real and they have got to do something about that problem.

MARK MURRAY: Domenico, I agree with you that it would be comprehensive immigration reform particularly in that it is his second term. You know we have talked about before that President Obama took a lot of heat during the presidential campaign for saying that change comes from the outside not from the inside. But comprehensive immigration reform would actually be a key example of change coming from the outside because Obama is pointing to the exit polls and saying, 'Look, 71% of the Latino voters voted for me. Republicans, if you guys want to start winning back Latinos you guys have to cut a deal with my on comp. immigration reform and change the rhetoric. So I think that is an interesting dynamic. And then if we take a step back and look at if President Obama is able to get immigration reform done, if there is some type of a budget deal, of course that again is going to be a big question --

DOMENICO MONTANARO: --This stuff always seems tougher than even some of these other issues.

MARK MURRAY: Those would be two very big domestic achievements for a second term. More than you usually see in most second term presidencies just because you are a lame duck and it is harder to get things done domestically. But if you have those two things, combine it with health care, combine it with Wall Street reform, combine it also with that new START treaty with Russia, that is really a very big--

DOMENICO MONTANARO: --you talk about DOMA, some of those other...

MARK MURRAY: Right. Big accomplishments that you could actually probably rival to FDR or Lyndon Johnson.

DOMENICO MONTANARO: Interesting. I do think immigration reform and health care are humongous pieces of legislation if they were to get done. It is hard to see what else there would be a push on, they've largely gone around Congress on education so I don't think they are necessarily going to go a route where they are going to try to reauthorize a No Child Left Behind or something. I think they are very happy doing that with Arne Duncan and through some of the more administrative and executive means. It is really hard to see what else there would be. Obviously on foreign policy they have a lot to manage when it comes to the war in Afghanistan and needing to wind that down in 2014, so I think that is going to be a big part of what happens in that second lame duck session.

MARK MURRAY: Also, don't lose sight on the Supreme Court. That is actually sometimes how a president has the most lasting effect.

DOMENICO MONTANARO: And really put their stamp.

MARK MURRAY: Right, and President Obama has the potential in the next four years to appoint maybe one, two or three Supreme Court justices potentially changing the balance of political power.

DOMENICO MONTANARO: It is really something and it is why the 2012 election was such an important one.

MARK MURRAY: Thanks Maxx for the question.