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Change of Heart?

Virginia, which has some of the harshest policies regarding illegal immigration, is now softening its stance.

The state is now considering a host of services designed to help immigrants rather than penalize them, such as offering in-state tuition to those who meet specific criteria and creating an immigration assistance office, The Washington Post reported Monday.

Virginia officials credit the change of heart to a better “understanding of the state’s limitations on a largely federal issue and backlash at the voting booth,” the Post states. They also say there is waning public interest in immigration in the face of a growing economic crisis.

The news comes a day after Gannett News Service reported that President-elect Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., reached an agreement that will make way for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration legislation.

The legislation, if it wins approval, would make some undocumented immigrants eligible for certain federal programs, including student aid, according to an interview the news service conducted with Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

The Bush Administration tried to push through an immigration bill last year, but it failed amid partisan rancor and public outcry.

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