Last November, Hispanic voters planted the seeds for serious immigration reform when they backed President Barack Obama by a record margin.
This April, we'll see if those seeds can grow in Capitol Hill's toxic partisan soil.
Congress returns from spring break Monday, and immigration reform tops the agenda. The Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight" is preparing to release its long-awaited plan for resolving the status of 11 million undocumented men, women, and children now living in America's shadows.
Can a unique confluence of factors -- a Democratic president trying to build his legacy, a Republican Party grappling with new demographic realities -- overcome the usual strong bias for inaction in a sharply divided Congress? The answer remains unclear.
"What we have now is not a 21st century legal immigration system," GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a key conservative at the heart of the talks, said back in January. "We have an obligation and the need to address the reality of the situation that we face."
Who's in the Gang of Eight? The list includes Rubio; Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina; Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona; Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona; Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey; Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois; Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado; and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York.
Details of the Senate plan
A source familiar with negotiations recently told CNN that the eight senators have tentatively reached agreement on some of the thorniest issues, including the establishment of a path to citizenship and the creation of a system to assess the state of border security.
The Senate proposal could come "in the next couple of weeks," Graham said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." But McCain told reporters later Sunday morning that he still thinks "it's very likely" and "very possible" to have it done by the end of the week.
"I'm guardedly optimistic. I can't guarantee it. But we have literally almost all of the issues resolved," he said.
Specifically, the senators have agreed to a 13-year path to citizenship, the source said. It would take 10 years for undocumented workers to get a green card, and then another three years to gain citizenship.
Along the way, undocumented workers would have to pay a fine and back taxes, and pass a background check. The size of the fine remains unclear.
No undocumented worker would be eligible for citizenship until the border is considered secure. To measure border security, a commission would be created with the task of establishing and assessing a set of quantifiable criteria. The commission would be made up of officials named by state and federal leaders.
Disagreement over agricultural workers
A sharp disagreement over the future treatment of undocumented workers on America's farms, however, is currently holding up progress on the bill.
The two key sticking points are wages and the number of visas to be granted to undocumented farm workers, two other sources close to the talks confirmed Friday. Four senators -- Rubio, Bennet, Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, and California Democrat Dianne Feinstein -- are trying to deal with the matter.
"It's the one major unresolved issue," one of the sources told CNN.
The sources were unable to provide specifics in terms of the number of visas or wage levels under consideration. But generally speaking, agricultural businesses have an interest in more visas and lower wages. Labor leaders, in contrast, typically support fewer visas and higher wages.
Saying there are a "few little kerfuffles" to work out in the drafting of the legislation -- referring to the disagreement over agricultural workers -- Schumer told CNN on Sunday the senators have written "most of the bill" and feel hopeful that they can announce a full agreement at the end of the week.
"We've solved most of the issues, there are a few more to go, there are a few more today and tomorrow. I'm very optimistic we'll be able to solve those last few problems," he said, declining to get into specifics.
Agreement on nonagricultural workers
Business and labor leaders appear to have settled on a deal establishing a new immigrant guest worker program for nonagricultural workers.
The compromise, according to another source, is the creation of a new "W" visa for lesser-skilled workers not working in agriculture. Those workers would be allowed to enter the country based on labor market shortages, and could enter with the possibility of eventually applying for citizenship.
The W visa would affect housekeepers, landscapers, retail workers and some construction workers, the source noted. The agreement does not address visas for high-skilled workers or family members.
According to the AFL-CIO's understanding of the agreement, the visa program would launch in April 2015. The number of visas issued would never go below 20,000 per year and could rise as high as 200,000 annually, depending on employment levels.