Is there real hope on the horizon for the estimated 12 million immigrants residing illegally in the U.S.? According to a bi-partisan group of senators dubbed the Gang of Eight, immigration overhaul may be on the horizon in 2013. Many people have resisted the urge to become too optimistic, mainly because the immigration reform initiative sounds eerily familiar to the same bid that was launched in 2005, 2009, and again in 2010, which ultimately died out with no real resolution. However, several factors indicate this year will be different. Political will in the form of sweeping demographic changes in the U.S. and an exponential increase in the Hispanic population, alongside 1/3 of the legislators in the House and Senate who are new to their posts, are likely to become the lever of change needed to address our Nation’s immigration policies.Republican John McCain, a staunch and vocal opponent of President Obama’s stance on immigration reform, said on ABC’s “This Week”, that the group still had hard work ahead but that he was pleased with the progress.” McCain further stated that change was needed because “we can’t go on forever with 11 million people living in this country in the shadows in an illegal status. We cannot forever have children who were born here, who were brought here by their parents when they were small children, to live in the shadows, as well.”So why should this new plan be any different? According to the blueprint offered by the Gang of Eight- which includes key decision makers Michael Bennet of Colorado, as well as Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Jeff Flake of Arizona the plan contains enough of a compromise on both sides of the aisle to make real reform a possibility. Legislators are aware that times have changed and immigration issues are now of serious consequence.The plan contains four basic ideas that would lead to systematic transformation of immigration policies. First, the new plan would streamline the current immigration system and create a “tough, fair, and practical roadmap” to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Secondly, it would reward advanced graduates of American universities in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. The plan would also create a way for employers to verify the status of potential employees and impose penalties on those companies that don’t comply and finally the new plan would enable employers to hire undocumented, low-wage, manual labor workers when there are no Americans who will take the job.The plan is not without opposition however. “In the race to out-amnesty Obama, the Gang of Eight today rehashed the failed amnesty plan from six years ago,” said Rosemary Jenks, director of government affairs for Numbers USA, an advocacy group that fights for lower immigration levels, calling the plan little more than “Amnesty 2.0.” In addition, Republican Lamar Smith, from Texas voiced an opinion likely shared by other conservatives when he said, “When you legalize those who are in the country illegally, it costs taxpayers millions of dollars, costs American workers thousands of jobs, and encourages more illegal immigration,” Smith further said, “By granting amnesty, the Senate proposal actually compounds the problem by encouraging more illegal immigration.”Senator McCain summarized the reason why the current plan will succeed where others had failed with one word, “Elections”. “The Republican Party is losing the support of our Hispanic citizens… This is a preeminent issue for those citizens.” As long as both sides remember that the Hispanic voters have a tremendous impact on the success of or failure of an election there a real reason to be optimistic on the success of the immigration reform of 2013.