November 11, 2012
by Will Dunham
Two U.S. senators launched a fresh move to put together a bipartisan immigration
reform plan on Sunday, restarting talks on a proposal that includes a path to
citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country.
Since President Barack Obama was re-elected last week with overwhelming
support from Hispanic voters, many Republicans have expressed a new willingness
to work with Democrats to pass immigration reform after years of legislative
Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Democratic Senator Charles Schumer said
he and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham have agreed to resume talks on
immigration reform that broke off two years ago.
"And I think we have a darned good chance using this blueprint to get
something done this year. The Republican Party has learned that being ...
anti-immigrant doesn't work for them politically. And they know it," Schumer
Obama in 2010 called the proposal backed by Graham and Schumer a "promising
framework," but it made no headway.
There are an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States,
most of them Hispanics.
Speaking on the CBS program "Face the Nation," Graham said the tone and
rhetoric used by members of his party on immigration "built a wall between the
Republican Party and the Hispanic community."
He noted that Republican presidential candidates have been steadily losing
the support of Hispanic voters since 2004.
"This is an odd formula for a party to adopt: the fastest-growing demographic
in the country, and we're losing 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. ... I
intend to tear this wall down and pass an immigration reform bill that's an
American solution to an American problem," Graham said.
PATH TO CITIZENSHIP
The Graham and Schumer plan has four components: requiring high-tech,
fraud-proof Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get
jobs; strengthening border security and enforcement of immigration laws;
creating a process for admitting temporary workers; and implementing a path to
legal status for immigrants already in the country.
Schumer said the plan embraces "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 added, "Sixty-five percent of the people in the exit poll of this
election supported a pathway to citizenship."
Many Republican leaders have taken a hard position against illegal
immigrants. Obama's unsuccessful Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, during the
campaign advocated "self-deportation" of illegal immigrants. Republicans in
Arizona and other states have passed tough laws cracking down on illegal
Since the election, some influential conservative voices, including
television commentator Sean Hannity, have announced support for immigration
reform that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants with no
"We have nobody to blame but ourselves when it comes to losing Hispanics, and
we can get them back with some effort on our part," Graham said.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in
Congress, said on Friday the U.S. immigration system is broken. He has expressed
confidence Republicans could find common ground with Obama.
The Obama administration announced in June it would relax U.S. deportation
rules so that many young illegal immigrants who came to the United States as
children can stay and work. The change would allow illegal immigrants who, among
other criteria, are younger than 30 years old and have not been convicted of a
felony to apply for work permits.