April 25th, 2010
11:49 AM ET
8 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. chris b

    Why do Republicans always want to put things off and do nothing now?

    Financial Reform

    When can we count on them to work on/complete anything? Sounds like 2008. It's the party of "Nothing" or "Procrastination" not "No"

    April 25, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  2. LizinStLouis

    Things were looking up for Republicans in November but with this hubris on Immigration in Arizona, I do not think so. If this debate takes center stage, Republicans will have dug their own grave so to say. I bet Harry Reid and others are all smiles at the moment. If I was a Latino/Latina GOP voter, I would jump ship. This Immigration Law in Arizona was strategically planned and timed in such a way as to pander to white voters but not without consequences. Definitely immigration reform is needed but at federal level otherwise this kind of State Law is going to rile and alienate many voters. Clearly if this was a strategy to win for GOP, even as an amateur in politics, I can see it failing. GOP needs to do better.

    April 25, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  3. Hugo

    If a Latino –Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, or Latin American, a Jew (we come in different colors) or a member of any minority votes for the Republicans they only have to remember “las Juderias” in Spain and the concentration camps in Poland.

    April 25, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  4. Bandit24

    We need immigration reform now. It needs to look exactly like the new Az.immigration law. Border security should be the top priority.

    April 25, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. T'SAH from Virginia

    It's called 'MULTI-TASKING' – the same attribute most employers want their employees to be able to do!!!!! It's also called 'chewing gum and walking at the same time."

    This proves that the RepubliCAN'Ts are about nothing but 'HELL no you CAN'T"!!!

    April 25, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  6. Enforce not Reform

    Its not Reform that is needed, it is Enforcement. We have immigration laws, they need to be enforced. Persons who are here illegally, companies and individuals that hire illegals, organizations that harbor illegals are all examples of criminals. These persons and organizations and employers need to be prosecuted. Illegals need to be deported and company and organization leaders should be sent to jail. Actually send a CEO or VP of Human Resouces to prison and the jobs will immediately dry up for illegals and that will send illegals packing themselves back to where they came from.

    This is our country, there are legal means by which someone can enter and gain citizenship. That's true with every country in the world. Only Amercia seems to have a problem with enforcing its own laws for immigration. Enter another country illegally and you either be immediately deported or serve time in jail or both. Try it with a few rogue nations and you will end up dead. But in America, we have been paying their way, giving them housing, giving them jobs and food and the wondering why our cities and states can no longer make it on the taxes that are gathered.

    April 25, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  7. MLH

    Immigration reform now. The Grand Ole Party's Grand Ole Hissy Fit is getting tiresome. We would have better legislation if they would step up and work with the Dems.

    April 25, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  8. dmc

    It is a travesty to see how the GOP put a twist on Democrats not doing anything when they are being lazy and politicizing issues on what our hard-working president is doing. These Republicans are always slowing down progress in America by saying NO! and claiming to be patriots and wanting their country back. Classic!! If you want the lazy bums out, then maybe the lazy Republicans need to step aside and get out of Congress period!! I'm putting my money on the patriotic Democrat

    April 25, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  9. Byrd

    So once again with the republicans, everything can either wait, be returned to the drawing board or be responded to with a resounding, "NO!" They had twelve years of a republican controlled Congress, including eight years with a republican president, yet nothing whatsoever was done on this issue or any other with the exception of starting two wars using money they borrowed from China. And yet they still seem to believe they possess even a shred of credibility. Go figure...

    April 25, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. Matt

    Translation: we have to repeat things slowly and often so the teabaggers can understand them. If we have to lie to them about three issues at once, they might get confused and just write in Ron Paul on every ballot in November.

    April 25, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. David


    The terrorists will come in from Canada, they already have. Think for yourself and stop with all the rhetoric. Probably the biggest weapon against terrorists is the war on drugs, because the drug producers and distributors (which bring drugs in from the south) do not wish to involve the terrorist. They are the ones policing our southern border, but the terrorists who flew into the World Trade centers came in through Canada. That is your unsecured border.

    April 25, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  12. Nina

    Forget Federal immigration reform for now. Instead support more states establing state laws similar to AZ.

    April 25, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. Mathew

    Playing politics? The GOP has been playing politics since President Obama was elected.

    And it's Chambliss....a man (who received military deferments and avoided service) who denounced a former senator Max Cleland (who made a tremendous sacrifice to this country) as being "soft on terror." I ashamed to say this man represents my state.

    April 25, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. LetsBeCivil

    What a joke. How can Saxby Chambliss charge anyone else with playing politics?

    April 25, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  15. geoff

    I don't buy the "we-are-all-immigrants-so-illegals-can-stay" argument. We have immigration laws for a reason: to provide for orderly assimilation of many cultures into this great nation of ours. If you are illegal and caught, you go home, period.

    People who sneak in are simply breaking the law and should be deported. If not, then let's just open the borders to anyone "who wants a better life" - like, say, anyone from Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, not to mention the entire continent of Africa and Asia.

    Yet to be fair, let's review guest worker policies – if only to avoid having people forced to live in the shadows because American employers are too cheap to hire American workers.

    Time to review the constitution, too - if you are born to American citizen(s), you are a citizen. If you happen to be born here of foreign nationals, you are not a citizen. Simple as that.

    April 25, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  16. Gil

    Stall Health Care, threaten a filibuster to the S. Court nominee before they are picked, say Immigration Reform can wait and have 41 senators say they don't support Finanacial Reform! The Pary of No has got to go! How could anyone support a GOP candidate this November? Stupids!

    April 25, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  17. Mickey, NY

    It seems that the GOP has a lot more to do in the form of the continued destruction of this country using their best trait: Obstructionism.

    GOP = domestic terrorists

    April 25, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  18. Dan A

    Tom In Maine has it right–Saxby Chambliss is definitely a piece of slime !!!!! It's a shame that only New Englanders have the ability to see people for what they really are . Obviously the rest of the country lacks the foresight and intelligence to do so !!!

    April 25, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  19. hobart

    More Lies, for the ex-party of Lincoln.

    How on earth do Republicans pass laws like racial profiling of Latinos in Arizona, and then blame Democrats for making immigration reform a priority?

    BTW, the obvious backlash of this is that Anglos will be pulled over anywhere Latinos are in the majority, and hauled off to jail into they can prove their citizenship.

    Why do Republicans think we're too stupid to see through their lies and hypocrisy?

    Why do Republicans hate America?

    April 25, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. bob

    The Obama administration and the dems in congress don't know what they want to do next. They flit from one issue to another without any overall plan.

    Whatever happenned to Obama focusing his attention like a laser to the issue of jobs and unemployment?

    April 25, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  21. Central Phoenix

    Actually wasn't yesterday that Lindsey Grahm R-SC state that the GOP was going to stall on everything else unless Immigration Reform is put on the front burner. Maybe Chambliss didn't get the talking points from Frank Luntz

    April 25, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  22. Dennis

    You would have plenty of time if you would just stop whining and do it. You sound like my 5th grader and his homework. Get a work ethic and start working for the middle class. We are waiting.

    April 25, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  23. richard in montana

    If all you lazy assed politicians would actually do something instead of pontificate then important legislation would get done. I suggest you do like the rest of us, no summer vacation until the work is done.

    April 25, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  24. Chipster

    Sure, close the borders, cancel the Constitution and allow warrant-less wiretapping and access to telephone records. Hide under your beds. Let's just surrender to the terrorists by dismantling protections to our liberty. Fear and paranoia rule the day! And when we finally have a false sense of security, who will protect us from ourselves? Terrorists can only kills us but only we can destroy ourselves and our country.

    April 25, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  25. Will

    What Senator Chambliss didn't say is that he opposed immigration reform in 2006 and 2007. So it's not a good time now, and it wasn't a good time three and four years ago. Exactly when is a good time? Stop trying to blur the debate Senator Chambliss. You are opposed to immigration reform and have always been. We desperately need comprensive immigration reform in 2010. Far too many people are being hurt with the broken status quo.

    April 25, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
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