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Schumer Promises Immigration Reform First as Senate Majority Leader

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) pauses for a reporter's question on Capitol Hill on Dec. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said if he becomes majority leader of the Senate and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton wins the election that providing a “pathway to citizenship” for illegal immigrants would be the first order of business.

Schumer stressed the importance of Latinos voting for Clinton because she would appoint a liberal justice to the Supreme Court for a 5-4 majority.

“If I become majority leader, God willing, my colleagues have been very, very kind to me, at the top of our agenda, and Senator Clinton feels the same way, is immigration reform — a final pathway to citizenship for the 11 million who live in the shadows, and we will get that done,” Schumer said at the Senate Democrats’ Latino Summit last month on Capitol Hill. “I hope you will spread the word in your communities.”

Schumer lamented the Supreme Court’s decision related to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which he said should be reversed.

“They are making it harder and harder for poor people, minorities, young people and elderly people to vote. My father is 93 — he doesn’t have a driver’s license anymore. In many states he wouldn’t vote because he couldn’t get an ID,” he said.

Schumer told the audience of mostly Latino activists the election is significant because a Clinton win would lead to a “progressive majority” on the Supreme Court. He warned that the GOP is seeking to get rid of all government regulations.

“They have the theory which had been wending its way through the courts that says any government regulation is an unconstitutional taking unless an impossible cost-benefit analysis is done,” he said.

“Now if Hillary becomes the president and we get a majority in the Senate, we will get a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court — a progressive majority — and it will undo Citizens United. It will undo the strangulation of the Voting Rights Act. It will protect unions. It will protect government when it protects people who need protection, so this is a very important election to us and we are doing everything we can to help,” Schumer added.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also emphasized the importance of pushing back against state laws that require voters to show photo identification to vote.

Durbin told the crowd that he led his civil rights subcommittee to Cleveland, Ohio and Florida for public hearings on the voter ID laws in those states.

He said a bipartisan group of officials could not show evidence of voter fraud.

“What this is about is not fraud and voting. This is about suppressing voting, discouraging voters — that’s what this is about because the other party has not taken notice of the demographics of America — the change that is taking place and continues to inflame many minorities with their rhetoric. The way that they are trying to balance the voting ledger is by reducing the number of people who could vote in America — that’s worth a fight,” Durbin said at the summit.