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House speaker Boehner picks immigration advocate to advise him on reform

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U.S. immigration reform supporters got a boost from an unlikely source: House Speaker John Boehner.

According to Yahoo News/Reuters on Dec. 3, Speaker Boehner hired long-time immigration specialist Becky Tallent to advise him on immigration reform. Tallent, who is the director of immigration policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center and a former aide to Republican Sen. John McCain, has been a major player in the immigration reform debate.

Tallent helped write several bills over the past decade the would become the first major rewrite of immigration policy since 1986. She was also one of the co-authors of the immigration reform bill the passed the Senate during the summer, with major backing from McCain, that is now stalled in the Republican-dominated House.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told Reuters:

The speaker remains hopeful that we can enact step-by-step, common-sense immigration reforms. Becky Tallent, a well-Known expert in this field of public policy, is a great addition to our team and that effort.

Before becoming Speaker Boehner's adviser, Tallent advised former Arizona Representative Jim Kolbe, who was also an immigration reform advocate.

Tallent's hire gives immigration reform advocates new hope that she can spur the Speaker to finally pass immigration reform in the House, where it has became a non-starter. Angela Kelley, the vice-president of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, told Reuters:

She has deep knowledge and history with the issue and her hire, coming now in December, signals an expectation they're (House Republicans) going to need her expertise.

Stay tuned.

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