Anti-deportation activists in May.
Protesters from Mujeres Unidas Y Activas, a grassroots group, rally during a May Day demonstration in Oakland, California May 1, 2014. REUTERS/Noah Berger

The Associated Press reports that President Barack Obama told a crowd of donors in Massachusetts on Wednesday that despite former House majority leader Eric Cantor’s shocking primary loss to a challenger who campaigned on a hard anti-illegal immigration line, the chances of immigration reform in 2014 still weren’t dead. News of the primary results has been largely taken as having dealt a final blow to a reform during this Congressional session -- a prognosis the president dismissed. “I fundamentally reject that and I will tell the speaker of the House he needs to reject it.”

Dave Brat, the economics professor who prevailed in the race, had hammered Cantor for his collaboration on the Kids Act -- a bill never actually released which would have extended a path to citizenship to Dreamers -- saying it made him soft on “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants (Democrats and immigrant advocates, on the other hand, often saw Cantor as the most obstructive GOP leader on reform). But there is some evidence indicating that Cantor might not have been unseated purely because of his supposed softness on illegal immigration. One poll of voters in Cantor’s Virginia district found that a clear majority actually supported giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, though voters also expressed strong disapproval of House Republican leadership and of Cantor himself.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told the AP on Thursday that it was still unclear whether Cantor’s stance on immigration did him in. And the favorite for Cantor’s spot -- current No. 3 Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, California -- has said he would support a plan which would give legal status (but not citizenship) to millions of undocumented immigrants living in the country. But some proponents of immigration reform fear that Cantor’s loss could push House Republicans further to the right. Recently departed Obama administration press secretary and longtime advisor Robert Gibbs told the AP that the White House had received the news as “the end of anything productive getting done legislatively in Congress either this year or maybe for the next several years."

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