April 25th, 2010
11:49 AM ET
5 years ago

Republican suggests immigration reform can wait

Sens. Chambliss, left, and Menendez, right, discussed immigration Sunday on CNN's State of the Union.
Sens. Chambliss, left, and Menendez, right, discussed immigration Sunday on CNN's State of the Union.

Washington (CNN) – Sen. Saxby Chambliss said Sunday that Democrats are playing politics with the issue of immigration reform. The Georgia Republican also suggested that the Senate should have higher priorities than immigration reform and energy legislation just now.

“I’m not sure how you can really justify bringing either one of them up at this point,” Chambliss said on CNN’s State of the Union.

He added that the Senate has yet to make any progress on the budget or the many appropriations bills necessary to fund the federal government’s operations.

“We’ve got a lot of work left on our plate between now and the end of the summer,” he said, noting that the Senate was about to take up financial regulatory reform. “I’m not sure where you find the time to deal with these other major issues,” Chambliss told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

Watch: Immigration v. Wall Street reform

Asked by Crowley whether political considerations are pushing Democrats to move immigration onto the front burner during this midterm election year, the Republican did not hesitate.

“Oh sure, I mean it’s pretty clear that’s what this is all about," he responded.

Pointing to the Bush administration’s failed efforts to pass an immigration reform bill in 2007, Chambliss said A comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system – including dealing with those living in the U.S. illegally – was “not practical” until the country’s borders are sealed.

“Until you seal the border, trying to have an overall package on immigration just simply can’t be done,” Chambliss told Crowley.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, appearing with Chambliss Sunday, called immigration an issue that involved the country’s security and economic interests. Pointing to the recently passed law in Arizona, Menendez also said comprehensive immigration reform was necessary to protect the civil rights of those in the country legally. Menendez said the financial regulatory reform bill will take priority before an immigration or an energy bill.

The new Arizona law also prompted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, to say last week that he will make passing a comprehensive immigration bill a priority once the Senate completes its work on a Wall Street reform bill.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, reacted to Reid’s move by announcing that he is withdrawing his support and involvement in efforts to craft an energy bill intended to win bipartisan support in the Senate. Graham, the Republican linchpin in both the energy and immigration negotiations with Senate Democrats, called the Democrats’ decision to prioritize immigration “nothing more than a cynical political ploy.” Democrats, for their part, have privately charged that Graham is trying to put the brakes on an immigration bill in order to protect his longtime friend Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona. A spokesman for Graham called that charge “nonsense.”

McCain is up for re-election and facing former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, a GOP primary opponent who has made his tough stance on border security and immigration one of his signature issues. Reid also is up for re-election and trailing likely GOP opponents in the polls. Shepherding a comprehensive immigration reform bill through the Senate would likely help Reid in Nevada, a state with a growing demographic of Hispanic voters. Given the Arizona’s new immigration law, consideration of a comprehensive federal immigration law prior to November’s election could put McCain in a difficult position in Arizona, which also has a growing number of Hispanic voters.


Filed under: Energy • Immigration • Popular Posts • Saxby Chambliss • Senate • State of the Union
soundoff (138 Responses)
  1. PalmReader

    In more ways than I care to admit, I imagine all Americans will now be made to pay the cost of this newest folly Arizona has thrown at us. I dare say the Republican leadership (what little there is anyway) would have preferred that the *Take Back America* slogan not be, in quoting Shakespear, '

    April 25, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  2. LMC

    And nothing the Republicans are doing is political? Oh wait, it's actually that the Republicans are doing nothing!

    April 25, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. pc

    just another case of the rich old fat man republican not caring about the middle class /blue collar worker. they don't care that illegals are taking work from real americans and that our hospitals are having to treat these people that can not or will not pay. untill this is settled america will continue to be robbed by the flow of illegals taking from our government at the expense of americans that need and can not get this help. americans should come first and the republican party has no desire to help the little people that has made this a great country.democrats are our only hope to make america strong and healthy again. republicans have got to be voted out of office!

    April 25, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. PalmReader

    In more ways than I care to admit, I imagine all Americans will now be made to pay the cost of this newest folly Arizona has thrown at us. I dare say the Republican leadership (what little there is anyway) would have preferred that the *Take Back America* slogan not be, in quoting Shakespeare, 'quite so naked to mine enemies'.

    Of coarse the GOPers want to delay Immigration Reform. Karma, John McCain? Good luck pushing the ugly little Tea Party secrets and sly innuendo's back into Pandora's box, GOPers.

    April 25, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  5. MAD IN TEXAS

    Well the Arizona Governor should call out her National Guard giving them live ammunition to stop the rioting in her state. If our Government does not have the guts to do something with illegal immigration then it's time for the Border States to do it themselves. I am a Texas and wondering if our Governor Perry has any guts or is he going to give in to these crooks. If OBAMA doesn't like it then it's time to secede from the Union. Texas should never have joined the States to start with knowing now that it was going to come down to the immoral party ruining the country. Get out of our state illegals.

    April 25, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. Nani

    Perhaps, Senator Chambliss you should take a close, very close look at what is being spent in your state on interpreters within the welfare system. And you don't think immigration reform should be on the front burner!!!!!!!

    April 25, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  7. az senior

    And Lord knows, the Republicans should recognize when someone is "playing politics" with an issue.

    April 25, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    These people piss me off with all this bull about putting things off until they get ready to deal with them. They are getting paid from my tax money to work, not procrastinate.

    April 25, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  9. Jim

    Wow. Republicans in Arizona pass a law requiring everyone to carry "papers" or be arrested and defend this new law by claiming the federal government has failed to secure the border. Republicans in DC say immigration reform can wait. Does anyone else see the problem with this? Immigration is at the top of the list in Republican controlled state legislatures, but a not a national level, where the the Democrats would get the majority of credit for addressing the issue.

    April 25, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  10. teena

    So, Repugs, tell Arizona that immigration reform can wait!

    April 25, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Why has OBAMA broke his campaign promise on NOT addressing the 12 – 15 million ILLEGALS within the first year? I forgot, it was all about RAMMING, BRIBING, CORRUPTING & SHOVING that 2700 page BS bill down americas throats. Now, with Nov 2010 coming, he better do something or he can watch the hispanics stay home in NOVEMBER. Its all about POLITICS.

    April 25, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    The Democrats are just cleaning up the mess they were left.
    Like a tornado that takes minutes to destory an entire community, it takes years to clean up.
    Why didn't the Bush administration and the Republican Congress address the climate when they had a chance? Instead of voting billions of dollars for a fiense that doe not work didi they do something about the problems.
    You can't complain about unemployment and healthcare costs without addressing immigration. Climate issues can lead to millions of new jobs as we advance new technologies. I know the GOP can only think about one issues at a time, so they may feel confused at the moment, but adults are able to do more thn just focus on elections.

    April 25, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  13. Brian from Washington

    Do Republicans really feel that they can recapture the White House without the Hispanic vote? And why on earth would anyone Hispanic vote for a Republican - it would be like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders!

    April 25, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  14. MR AMERICA

    This reminds me when McCain dropped everything to run back to Washington during his campaign. Obama made him look like an idiot with one line: "I think we can work on more than one problem at a time."

    April 25, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  15. Jim,Virginia

    We have an unemployment rate near 10% and President O'bama is worried about immigration reform.This man is so out of touch with what is important to the American people. Unbelievable !!!

    April 25, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  16. Charles W. Skinner

    Finally Sen. Graham gets the point that the Democrat party in power doesn't have anything but its own cynical retention of power in mind. Sen. Reid KNOWS that the negotiations and compromise necessary to pass comprehensive immigration reform MUST start with border security being tightened. Without border security, the "path to citizenship" (read: amnesty) means NOTHING. We've tried this before in the 1980s, when we provided an amnesty, and look what it's gotten us: 20+ Million MORE illegal immigrants.

    Sen. Reid is done come January 1 of next year. I'm actually hoping that Sen. McCain goes with him and that JD Hayworth is sitting in McCain's seat. The people of AZ have gotten off their butts and done something while the Democrat members of Congress watched the country burn. Let's hope Nevada, New Mexico and Texas follow suit.

    April 25, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Chambliss and the Party of NO are proving they doesn't care about the issues affecting the majority of the country. We all know immigration reform will make the health care debate look like a walk in the park, but what it truly shows is our "leaders" do not want to address the very serious issues that our country faces and are willing to kick them down the line to someone else. They are leaving it to the states to address and then telling them they're doing it wrong; can't have it both ways.

    Wait until they have to tackle the deficit which is now 53% of GNP. The years of spending beyond our means will soon come back to haunt us and we'll see who has the guts to do what is necessary.

    April 25, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  18. donna

    I thought the democrats said they were going to focus on creating jobs.....instead they seem to worry about jobs for illegal aliens and job destruction through cap and trade.....

    April 25, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  19. Jim Eagle

    The Republicans probably also want to ship all the Native Americans back to Asia across a bridge Palin will build from Alaska.

    April 25, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  20. Ardie

    I DON'T THINK SO. Now that Arizona has created an immigration war do you really think we can just walk away and believe that everything is alright. The problems have just started. We cannot ignore this and the fallout of Arizona will prove it.

    April 25, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Spending near $2 million a month to battle immigration here in Texas. Gov. Perry needs to follow lead and tell Obama to go to hell and proceed on. Barry is only interested in Barry.

    April 25, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  22. Patsy, Texas

    Two words for Republicans: PITIFUL AND PATHETIC.
    So Chambliss says they "have a lot of work to do" -–well, if you
    hadn't been so hell bent on taking down Obama, a lot of work would
    have already been done. America will come back– strong– despite
    your hysteria and unwillingness to help. You got us here, you are
    morally obligated to help build us up again.

    April 25, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  23. Peter

    A Man from a state from the former confederacy wants to lecture us about reform of any kind. Please,

    April 25, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  24. Drew

    I love this idea that our government in general and the Obama administration in particular cannot possibly focus on other policies or legislative efforts because unemployment is at 10%. You really want a government capable of working on only one thing at a time? Try that at your job once - see how long you last.

    April 25, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  25. 'Bama Grandma

    If Chambliss "can't find the time" to deal with more than one major issue at a time then he no longer belongs in the Senate. It's called "multi tasking" and a requirement for people in any management position.

    When Republicans start screaming "NO" to amnesty, let's all remember it was Reagan back in 1986 that granted amnesty to over 4 million illegals which essentially threw down the welcome mat for the 20 million illegal immigrants the US has today.

    April 25, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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