Saturday, 04 Jan 2014 01:44 PM

A former Republican senator predicted House Republicans will pass legislation this year offering illegal immigrants living in the U.S. legal status to remain in the country.

Former New Hampshire Republican Sen. John Sununu said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” that he expected the Republican- controlled House to pass immigration legislation that includes “some sort of pathway for those that are illegal today to become legal. Citizens, maybe, maybe not.”

Former White House senior adviser David Plouffe derided the possibility of legal residency rather than full citizenship as “a second-class citizen situation.”

“Part of the reason the Republican Party is hemorrhaging with Latino voters is this attitude,” Plouffe said in an interview for the same program. “These people are, you know, our neighbors. They’re working in our economy.”

Immigration legislation backed by President Barack Obama and passed by the Senate in June includes a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. after improved border security measures are put in place. The bill also would require employers to verify employment by using E-Verify, revamp the visa system to increase high-skilled labor sought by technology firms and add temporary worker visas for longer-term jobs and seasonal agricultural positions.

House Resistance

House leaders say they won’t take up the comprehensive Senate bill. Instead, they’re discussing options for piecemeal measures, talks that will continue at the Republicans’ annual retreat this month, a leadership aide said.

Sununu said he expects the House will pass a series of smaller measures that include provisions addressing border security, agricultural workers and high-tech visas.

Addressing the president’s signature health-care law, Plouffe, an architect of Obama’s two presidential campaigns, expressed confidence that Democratic senators running for re- election in November would see at least some improvement in public attitudes toward the Affordable Care Act.

“I don’t know if it’ll be much more popular,” Plouffe said. “It’ll be a little more popular, simply because a lot of people will be signed up. I think that reality will change the politics a little bit.”

“It’s hard to imagine it getting any worse,” Sununu said of public reaction to a program that suffered a flawed Oct. 1 rollout of health-care exchanges offering coverage to millions of uninsured Americans under the law. “But I don’t think it’s going to get a lot better.”