WASHINGTON (AP) — Cecilia Muñoz, asesora en jefe de política interna del Presidente Barack Obama, tiene una carta enmarcada del fallecido senador demócrata Ted Kennedy en su oficina en la sala oeste de la Casa Blanca.

"No hemos completado el viaje, pero vamos a llegar allí", escribió Kennedy en 2007, cuando se desplomaron los esfuerzos bipartidistas para reformar el fracturado sistema de inmigración de Estados Unidos.

Muñoz, una veterana de esa lucha y de muchas otras antes, nunca ha percibido tan cerca la sensación de completar ese viaje.

Como jefa del Consejo de Política Interior de la Casa Blanca, Muñoz encabeza el esfuerzo de Obama para romper con años de estancamiento partidista y darle un camino hacia la ciudadanía a millones de personas que residen sin autorización legal en Estados Unidos.

"Definitivamente camina con más bríos", dijo Valerie Jarrett, alta asesora de Obama, refiriéndose a Muñoz. "Pero no da nada por descontado".

Fuertes cambios en el panorama político han colocado la reforma de las leyes de inmigración atractivamente cerca para Muñoz y el presidente. Los hispanos representaron el 10% del electorado en los comicios de noviembre y Obama ganó dos terceras partes de sus votos, en parte debido a las posiciones conservadoras en materia de inmigración asumidas por los republicanos durante su proceso de nominación.

Las elecciones generales obligaron a algunos legisladores republicanos a reconsiderar su oposición a cambios profundos en las leyes de inmigración, lo que allanó el camino para el rápido consenso que ha surgido entre la Casa Banca y legisladores de ambos partidos en las últimas semanas.

Las áreas de acuerdo incluyen una vía a la ciudadanía para la mayoría de los 11 millones de personas que viven en Estados Unidos sin la autorización debida, fortalecer la seguridad en la frontera con México, mejorar la eficiencia del sistema de inmigración legal y castigar a las empresas que emplean a personas sin la documentación necesaria.

Pero se espera que definir los detalles de las propuestas sea un proceso contencioso y emotivo, lleno de obstáculos.

El diario USA Today reportó el sábado que la Casa Blanca está haciendo circular un plan para crear una visa para los extranjeros sin autorización para vivir en el país que ya están en Estados Unidos. La propuesta les permitiría convertirse en residentes legales en un plazo de ocho años.

Muchos conservadores de oponen a ofrecer un camino a la ciudadanía para estas personas, calificándolo de "amnistía".

Pocas personas conocen mejor que Muñoz los obstáculos que enfrenta el debate sobre la inmigración. Muñoz dedicó dos décadas de su vida al activismo en favor de los derechos de los inmigrantes en el Consejo Nacional de La Raza, la mayor organización de defensa de los hispanos del país. Allí se ganó la reputación de defensora feroz con un profundo conocimiento de la política de inmigración, declaró con frecuencia ante el Congreso y ofreció orientación a varios legisladores, entre ellos Kennedy, demócrata por Massachusetts.

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Julie Pace está en Twitter como http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

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