Gang confident immigration bill can break Senate gridlock
April 18th, 2013
04:26 PM ET
12 months ago

Gang confident immigration bill can break Senate gridlock

(CNN) - A months-in-the-making immigration reform bill that bolsters border security while creating a path to citizenship can break Washington's losing streak for passing large, meaningful legislation, its creators said at an unveiling event Thursday.

The latest attempt at comprehensive immigration reform is the product of 24 meetings among the bipartisan "Gang of 8," whose members said Thursday they were confident they could convince their Senate collegues to join them in support of the measure.

"An unprecedented coalition is formed in favor of immigration reform," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said at the event, citing the work of "some of the most well-known conservative activists in Washington, and some of the most progressive."

"Powerful outside sources have helped defeat other initiatives in Washington. But on immigration, the opposite is proven true," he continued. "I am convinced this issue will not fall victim to the usual partisan gridlock."

"We know Congress has been broken," added Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. "This is an effort by four Democrats and four Republicans to prove to you and the rest of the members of the Senate, and eventually the House, it doesn't have to stay broken."

The package includes an agreement on a path to citizenship that would affect the nearly 11 million undocumented residents currently in the United States. Under the proposed law, 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.

That pathway to citizenship would remain contingent on three "triggers," which include forming an "e-verify" system for employers to check the legal status of workers; tracking immigrants entering and leaving the country, and bolstering border security – a key requirement for Republicans on the bipartisan panel.

Some conservative critics say a pathway to citizenship is tantamount to amnesty - Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana called the Gang of 8's measure "the same fundamentally flawed model from the past" during a press conference Thursday.

"We've tried that model before, it's failed miserably before and we all want to solve this problem, not continue it, not perpetuate it, certainly not grow it," Vitter said. "And so we're fundamentally concerned that an immediate amnesty with promises of enforcement grows the problem."

But Republicans within the "Gang of Eight" argue a way to bring undocumented workers into legal status is essential.

"Yes, we offer a path to citizenship to people who didn't come here legally," said Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona. "They're here and realistically there is nothing we can do that will induce them all to return to their countries of origin. Many of them have valuable contributions to our society and will provide even more if brought out of the shadows and in compliance with our laws."

Noting "America is a nation of immigrants," Florida Republican Marco Rubio said failures from both parties have led to the current broken system.

"Both Democrats and Republicans have failed to enforce the laws, and the result is we do have millions of people that are here against our immigration laws," he said. "We're not going to deport them. So let's secure the border, and let's bring these people out of the shadows."

Immigration has a tortured history in Congress - past attempts, including during George W. Bush's presidency, failed and caused some supportive Republicans to lose backing with core conservatives.

But as the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States grows, both Republicans and Democrats say now is the time to revamp a system that neither side regards as adequate.

Republicans have expressed renewed interest in the issue as the party looks for new ways to expand its appeal among Hispanic voters, and President Barack Obama has named comprehensive immigration reform as a top priority of his second term, fulfilling a promise he made during both of his White House bids.

Another top priority – new gun laws – suffered a serious setback Wednesday after a bipartisan attempt to strengthen background checks on gun sales failed in the Senate, along with other gun control measures sought in the aftermath of December's school shooting in Connecticut.

Asked Thursday why the bipartisan immigration reform bill wouldn't suffer a similar fate, Schumer pointed to the coalition of labor leaders and business groups that helped bring the legislation together.

"I don't think it's at all like gun control, frankly," he said. "I think the issue we're starting with has broader support."


Filed under: Immigration • Senate
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Donna

    Democrats and labor unions killed immigration reform in 2007. No doubt they will do it again to keep the issue alive in future elections. Wake up hispanics! You are being played for fools by the Democrats just as the blacks have been played for decades.

    April 18, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  2. wmontanye

    Maybe if it passes then it should not be signed until they pass gun control...

    April 18, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  3. nothing new here

    Donna

    Democrats and labor unions killed immigration reform in 2007. No doubt they will do it again to keep the issue alive in future elections. Wake up hispanics! You are being played for fools by the Democrats just as the blacks have been played for decades.
    ___________________
    The only people that are being played for fools are the American taxpayers of this country, and they come in all races and sizes.
    But please feel free to play the right race card for a change, you know, the one that is green, like in MONEY.

    April 18, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. nothing new here

    Wow, can we actually get our elected officials to do some work for a change?
    Inquiring minds want to know.

    April 18, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "Democrats and labor unions killed immigration reform in 2007. No doubt they will do it again to keep the issue alive in future elections. Wake up hispanics! You are being played for fools by the Democrats just as the blacks have been played for decades."

    Haha...you just can't help yourselves. Please proceed. Say more stuff like that. "They" love it...I promise.

    April 18, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    Donna
    You are being played for fools by the Democrats just as the blacks have been played for decades.
    ----------------------------------------------
    The jokes on you if actually believe that. What has a republican President done for African Americans lately?

    Raegan: Flooded urban communities with crack/cocaine and started a prison industrial complex behind it.
    Herber Walker Bush: Called for a New World Order which we want no part of.
    Dubya Bush: Do I really have to go there? One word: Katrina

    April 18, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    "This is an effort by four Democrats and four Republicans to prove to you and the rest of the members of the Senate, and eventually the House, it doesn't have to stay broken."
    -----------------------------------------------
    Wishful thinking Lindsay. Your minority leader in the Senate is intentionally trying to keep it broken. Look no further than your republican colleagues.

    April 18, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  8. Duker

    Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.
    -Ben Franklin

    April 18, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  9. Duker

    And no Democrats and Unions didnt kill immigration reform in 2007
    A fax campaign by anti immigration groups founded and funded by John Tanton a white supremacists did.
    May have heard of some of the Organizations he funded or founded
    -Numbersusa
    -FAIR
    -CIS

    one guy 13 organizations

    April 18, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. patch

    "Donna

    Democrats and labor unions killed immigration reform in 2007. No doubt they will do it again to keep the issue alive in future elections. Wake up hispanics! You are being played for fools by the Democrats just as the blacks have been played for decades."

    Donna, you can believe what you want, but Blacks and Hispanics know exactlly why they vote the way they do. The current Republican Party is too white, too conservative and too preoccupied with maitaining the status quo for the wealthy (since they pay their campaign bills). Minorities are wise enough to know that their type of agenda has little or no concern for their well-being or future success.

    As for the imigration bill. Tom Tancredo and the foam-at-the-mouth hispanaphobes are no where near as well funded, influential, or organized as the NRA. This bill may actually have a chance for success. It would be a good thing for America. It would also help the Republican party, since then maybe some of the Hispanic community would see them as something other than wingnuts.

    April 18, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  11. California

    Without securing the borders and taking away incentives for illegals to come here like free money ect... immigration reform is pointless.

    April 18, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  12. California

    But then again we do have an administration that doesn't enforce the laws we have now. Just sayin

    April 18, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  13. GI Joe

    The republicans think one bill passed is gonna make everyone forget 5 years of obstruction?

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    April 18, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  14. rs

    The now post-policy GOP is simply too addicted to chaos, and so in the end they themselves will block immigration reforn (California, above says it best).
    In doing so, the GOP prevents its own outreach to minorities and ethnic groups, just as yesterday's filibuster of the firearm background checks bill reduces those who will support the GOP.
    They'll be dead and gone by 2014 at this rate.
    They won't be missed.

    April 18, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  15. ralphco

    I don't think the illegals would want to become citizens – then they would have their guns taken away by the government.

    April 18, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  16. Neutral Observer

    it all comes down to cost. We'd love to become the momy of the world, but we are becoming bankrupt with our own citizens alone. Perhaps if we did not have obamacare, we'd be able to afford millions of more all looking for handouts.

    April 18, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  17. sherry

    This bill should be defeated! No amensty for those who have broken our laws....they are illegal and our borders should be secured! Any congressman/woman votes in favor of this bill they should be voted out. regardless of who they are! Rubio is a fraud

    April 18, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |