Durbin says basics in immigration bill must stand
May 5th, 2013
10:08 AM ET
1 year ago

Durbin says basics in immigration bill must stand

(CNN) - Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, part of the bipartisan Gang of Eight senators pushing immigration reform, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he agrees with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio that their bill may need some improvement but argued that they need to “stand by the basic agreement” of the legislation.

The Democrat from Illinois said, however, that he would support a same-sex provision in immigration reform, a plan that could undermine bipartisan support for the bill introduced last month.

Florida's Rubio, the leading Republican on immigration reform, said last week that the bill he helped craft would struggle in the Senate and would not pass in the House as it currently stands. The bulk of public outcry has been over the bill’s promise for a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country.

"Congress will have a chance to make it tougher, yet still realistic," he wrote in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, responding to further criticism that the bill is not strong enough in border security.

Durbin said there may be “elements where we need some improvement” but did not specify which parts should be tweaked and argued instead that the main foundation of the bill should stand.

“We've got to basically stick to the standard of what we've established, what we've agreed over the last three months,” he told CNN's chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.

In the proposed legislation, it would take 10 years for the majority of undocumented immigrants to get green cards and another three years to gain citizenship.

The legislation mandates strict new controls on the U.S.-Mexico border before any pathway to legality is opened.

The bill goes for markup this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The committee’s chairman, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, is proposing legislation that would allow gay Americans to sponsor their partners not born in the U.S. for green cards.

Currently, such rights apply to only to foreign-born men or women in heterosexual marriages with U.S. citizens. If Leahy moves ahead, some fear that it could upend efforts for any significant Republican support for the compromise immigration effort.

Durbin, a co-sponsor of the Leahy legislation, described the measure as a “hot” and “contentious” issue but added that he nonetheless supports it.

“If we can find a way through this to protect that basic right of an individual and still pass immigration reform, that's what I want to achieve,” he said. “We have two very important issues before us here. I hope we can get them both done. We may face a choice at some point in the future.”

President Barack Obama indicated at a news conference in Costa Rica on Friday that the idea was "the right thing to do" but acknowledged that such a politically charged issue may ultimately not make it into a final immigration package.

"I'm not going to get everything I want in this bill," he said in response to a question about his support for gay rights and its relation to immigration reform, a priority for Democrats seeking to maintain strong support from Hispanics and Republicans trying to woo them to their side.

– CNN’s Dana Davidsen, Alan Silverleib, and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: Dick Durbin • Immigration • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Galactus93

    Senator Durbin is a traitor to the American people. We need our immigration laws enforced. The Senate bill is filled with pork and panders to special interest groups. NO AMNESTY and NO LEGALIZATION of illegal aliens. We need a Federal Government that will enforce our laws and deport all illegal aliens and not reward them.

    May 5, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  2. Ray E. (Georgia)

    It would appear that this "Immigration" Bill is an excrise in futility. The Liberal's want more votes to keep them in power. Over the last 80 years the Liberal Agenda has prevailed. The results are less and less people working and the National Debt going higher and higher. Giving another 11 million citizenship and at least 65 percent of them voting the "Nanny" State the country will be just about done. Look up Aesop's Fable of the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg.

    If we are going to lose the country to the liberal's let's make them work for it. Sorry. No Amnsety no short cuts to citizenship. If you are here and illegal, return home and then get in line!

    May 5, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  3. Catmandew

    Dick Durbin corrupt Illinois politican wants more illegals to keep himself in office. No.shortcuts to illegals, enforce present laws on the books. No more executive orders to tell law enforcement what to do let them do their jobs!

    May 5, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. Leeza

    101 million Americans looking for work and THIS is what our representatives put their energy behind?

    Seal the borders, NOW. Enforce current immigration law, including e-Verify and these illegals will go home. Case closed.

    May 5, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  5. Gurgyl

    At one point immigration has to be tightened. Brainy come. No problem.

    May 5, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  6. wigglwagon

    Any proposed reform that does not include mandatory jail terms for employers of illegal aliens will be a complete failure just as the '86 Amnesty was a failure.

    An 800 page bill is ridiculous.

    The penalty for employers of illegal workers should be mandatory $15,000 fine per illegal worker and mandatory 2 years in jail without parole per illegal worker. That and deportation of the illegal worker would put an immediate end to the problem.

    That is ALL the reform we need.

    People like the DREAMERS are not needed in America. The people in their home countries need the DREAMERS to help build free prosperous societies. It is America's responsibility to help all countries build a better world. We should not be stealing 'the best and the brightest' from other countries.

    May 5, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  7. stan

    Hey DICK Durban:

    Here is the definition of AMNESTY:

    Amnesty is defined by Webster’s New World Law Dictionary as “A pardon for past criminal offenses for a class or group of individuals who are subject to trial but have not yet been convicted.” More specifically as it pertains to illegal aliens in the United States, the amnesty debate in Congress concerns whether or not illegal aliens should be rewarded by allowing them to escape penalties for their law-breaking and giving them precisely what they broke the laws to obtain: the right to live and work in the United States.

    Prior to the Immigration and Reform Control Act of 1986, the United States government previously granted amnesty on a case by case basis. Since 1986, there have been Seven mass amnesties and additional amnesties are proposed in Congress every year. Fortunately, the last mass amnesty was passed over a decade ago.

    In 2007, Senators Ted Kennedy and John McCain introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 which would have given amnesty to 12 to 20 million illegal aliens, this would have been detrimental to the overpopulation problem. Fortunately the bill failed mostly because to the efforts of NumbersUSA's activists faxing and phone call campaigns to the senators' offices. In June 2012, President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals "DACA" which allows illegal aliens who came as children to stay in the United States. Officials began accepting applications for "DACA" in August 2012.

    Any amnesty allow illegal aliens to permanently stay in the United States. Eventually, these individuals will be allowed to sponsor their immediate and distant relatives, thereby making America's overpopulation problem even worse.

    May 5, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |