Two senators confirmed Sunday that bipartisan immigration reform talks, which last took place two years ago, will resume.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on NBC’s Meet the Press he and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are talking to colleagues about moving forward on a blueprint forged last time they negotiated immigration.
“I think we have a darn good chance using this blueprint to get something done this year,” Schumer said. “The Republican Party has learned that being anti-illegal and anti-immigrant doesn’t work for them politically and they know it.”
“The one thing we do not need to do is abandon conservatism,” Graham said on CBS’ Face the Nation. “And in the exit polls of the election, 51 percent of Americans said the government does too much, not too little. Conservatism would sell with Hispanics. They’re hardworking, entrepreneurial, pro-life, pro-military. But the truth of the matter is the immigration debate that we engaged in in 2006 and 2007 has built a wall between the Republican Party and Hispanic community because of tone and rhetoric.”
President Bush received 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004. In 2008, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) got 31 percent. This year, Mitt Romney received just 27 percent.
“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. It has to stop. It’s one thing to shoot yourself in the foot. Just don’t reload the gun. So I intend not to reload this gun when it comes to Hispanics,” Graham said. “I intend to tear this wall down and pass an immigration reform bill that’s an American solution to an American problem, but 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.”
Schumer said their blueprint has “real potential for bipartisan support based on the theory that most Americans are for legal immigration but very much against illegal immigration.”
“Our plan just to be quick does four things. First of all, close the border, make sure that’s shut. Second, make sure that there is a non-forgeable document so that employers can tell who was legal and who was illegal and once they hire someone illegally, throw the book at them,” he said. “Third, on legal immigration — 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, foreign or people to pick the crops. 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.”
Schumer said he’d like to see Romney speak up for the resumption of negotiations. “I think you could see him struggling in the general election,” the senator said. “The hard right had moved him so far over on issues like immigration. And I didn’t think his heart was in it.”