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

Republican suggests immigration reform can wait

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/25/art.3sens0425.cnn.jpg caption="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. GP

    The GOP needs to realize they are the minority in both houses and they don't hold the executive branch.

    They don't set the agenda. They don't have to like the agenda.

    The dems had to put up with the repubs agenda for years. Different when the shoe is on the other foot?

    April 25, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  2. tmart

    Why do Republicans say 'wait, wait, wait' on ALL policy matters? They just don't seem to want to do anything. They've been working in committee on these matters forever. How much more time do they think they need? They say the Democrats are playing politics by pushing their agenda, but the Republicans simply want to wait till after November's election when they think they will have greater advantage.

    April 25, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  3. John Morris

    here is The solution :now we already have 12 million illeagal person with their families in the country , they work important job for us and we can't deport all of them because simply we can't fit all those kind of job they work.and now the point we afraid if we gave them the papers is to get more of them through the border right?so all we want to give only the people who live already here the papers then close the door infront of any new person comes through the border.ok …the border between us and Mexico is those 4 states ( Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California) Now the Arizona already have a new law which will check everybody's ID in the state…ok it is not moral thing but it will help.why we just don't do the same law in the other 3 states(Texas, New Mexico, California) Then we issue ID for everybody who is illegal in those 4 state says that he is illegal AND DO NOT deport or arrest anybody of them.so now they will just have ID says he is illegal till he fix his papers with a new law for immigration for the whole country.So we can arrest or deport anyone who will show up after that in any of those 4 states…and that will be easy by checking everybody's ID in those 4 states.so FIRST stop deporting or arrestingSecond gave them ID Third catch anybody who is new to this country without any IDThat is it .

    April 25, 2010 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. shooter

    Millions of individuals from foreign countries walk unchallenged across our southern border every day. We don't know who they are, where they come from, or their intentions. It is an invasion by definition, and our government condones it. All US presidents have ignored and never enforced the laws to stop them and now they all want to give anmesty to those illegal aliens.

    April 25, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  5. Steve from California

    What kind of immigration reform are we taking about? If it's amnesty we're doomed! If it"s stronger enforcement of the law, similar to Arizona's efforts, we have a chance. Does anyone think Obama will lead efforts to strenghten immigration laws or will he look to amnesty? The country is at a crossroads.

    April 25, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. Liz the First

    What's the main thing on the republican't's agenda is making sure Obama doesn't get to do anything good for the American people! their agenda is blocking everything we, the people elected him and the Democrats to do. i hope and pray the people fooled by these wastes of skin see them for what they really are and vote them all out. then maybe we can get something accomplished.

    April 25, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. The_Traveler

    So pathetic, and so Republican...

    Whenever a Republican wants to stall something, they always say the "other guys are playing politics" with the issue. Bah! The least this GOP politico could do is try and come up with a different line...

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

    Your absolutely right Senator. It's just more stalling, stonewalling and backstabbing on the part of the GOP to further their own agenda and plunge the country back into the chaos that we're trying to crawl out of...

    April 25, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. Steve in North Carolina

    Nothing new. It's been on the backburner for a long time regardless of party affiliation. Good thing Arizona has the guts to do something about it, because it aint gonna happen with the Feds!

    April 25, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  9. Brad CA

    OK, so it's "safer" for the status quo to wait until after an election. The news is... it's all important. Arizona's effort is NOT "misguided," but an answer to a federal government packed with entrenched idiots who refuse to take a serious on anything except their own re-elections.

    If not now, when? Who does congress really represent? Strike the hardest when the public mood is present to do something!

    April 25, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  10. normajean

    Don't you just love it when the Republicans say "we"? "We have a lot of work to do"So far, every issue that we are trying to get moving on, they say" what's the rush? Don't push this ". They also like to say they have a plan in the works and then that's the last we hear of it until we bring out ours, then starts the "NO's". Would someone please send the Repubs a dictionary so that they can look up {if they can read} the words BI_PARTISAN. They use the phrase but obviously don't know what it means.Heaven help us, please.

    April 25, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  11. Albo58

    Chambliss is 100% correct! If someone needs to know what the government's top priority is right now, I'd say UNEMPLOYMENT, which is over 10%! In regards to Menedez's pandering comments regarding civil rights, I didn't think illegal immigrants were covered by our Constitution since they are breaking the law and because they are not Americans! He and his minions are playing the civil rights excuse to stop enforcement of our laws AND to stop security at our borders!

    April 25, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  12. normajean

    One more thing. To all of you "patriots" who complain about having things "crammed down your throats" please stop using this tired old cliche that means absolutely nothing except that you are at a loss to express yourselves without tired old cliches.

    April 25, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  13. Seattle Girl

    Republican's believe EVERYTHING can wait. It's refreshing to have a President who is working HARD for the American people every single day. Let's not forget G.W. took the most vacation time of any President in american history. Lazy Republicans!!!

    April 25, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
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