Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are touting a comprehensive immigration reform framework they developed as a basis for legislation this year, and said on Sunday they are restarting talks on the matter.
“We have a darned good chance using this blueprint to get something done this year,” Schumer, who chairs a Judiciary Committee subcommittee on immigration, said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “The Republican Party has learned that being anti-illegal anti-immigrant doesn't work for them politically.”
Immigration reform has emerged as top legislative priority for 2013 amid hopes the election result forces Republicans to reconsider opposition to a comprehensive deal.
Polls show Obama won about two-thirds of votes among Hispanics. Mitt Romney’s hard-line stance during the Republican primary against any measure that grants “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants is widely seen as a key reason for that result. By contrast, Obama in June relaxed deportation rules to let many young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children stay in the country.
Top Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in recent days suggested openness to “comprehensive immigration” deal. That is generally understood as an approach in which undocumented immigrants would gain legal status.
Schumer noted the framework he developed with Graham has four parts. It would strengthen border security and enforcement of immigration laws by toughening punishment for business that hire illegal workers; require fraud-proof Social Security cards to prevent hiring of workers who lack them; create a temporary worker program; and set a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country.
Both Graham and Schumer, who broke off their prior talks on the matter in 2010, emphasized the enforcement components of the plan, casting it as a tough solution.
The proposal would “secure the boarders and make sure you can’t hire an illegal immigrant,” Graham said. “We need to be firm and fair. Self-deportation is not going to work.”
Graham emphasized gaining citizenship would take undocumented workers up to 10 years.