WASHINGTON, (UPI) — Key Republican and Democratic senators say U.S. immigration reform could be passed yet this year, including citizenship paths for undocumented immigrants.
“I think we have a darn good chance … to get something done this year,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The Republican Party has learned that being anti-immigrant doesn’t work for them politically and they know it.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., agreed the Republican Party took a political shellacking from Latinos last week — more than 70 percent of the fast-growing group voted Democratic, exit polls indicated.
He told CBS’ “Face the Nation” the GOP has created a wall between itself and Hispanics, causing Republicans “to lose votes every election cycle — and it has to stop.
“It’s one thing to shoot yourself in the foot — just don’t reload the gun,” he said. “So I intend not to reload this gun when it comes to Hispanics. I intend to tear this wall down and pass an immigration reform bill that’s an American solution to [an] American problem.”
He said Republicans had “nobody to blame but ourselves when it comes to losing Hispanics.”
Schumer and Graham both said the key first part to immigration reform would be ensuring U.S. borders are secure.
“Second, make sure that there is a non-forgeable document so that employers can tell who was legal and who was illegal,” Schumer said. “And once they hire someone illegally, throw the book at them — that will stop illegal immigration in its tracks.
“Third, on legal immigration, let in the people we need, whether they be engineers from our universities … or people to pick the crops,” Schumer said.
“And fourth, a path to citizenship that’s fair, which says you have to learn English, you have to go to the back of the line, you’ve got to have a job and you can’t commit crimes.”
Graham spoke of the same blueprint on “Face the Nation,” pointing out, “65 percent of the people in the exit poll this election supported a pathway to citizenship.”