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Work on Comprehensive Immigration Reform Continues Behind the Scenes in the Senate

March 10, 2013

With news on the budget sequestration dominating the headlines, work on Comprehensive Immigration Reform continues in the Senate.

Although senators are not discussing the bill specifics, they are commenting on the process.

“I tell you what, this is one of the best experiences I’ve had. Everybody’s serious, everybody’s knowledgeable, they’ve been around the issue,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham-R-S.C., who’s up for re-election next year and facing a potential GOP primary challenge from the right. He said it’s “sort of what I came up here to do — sit down with serious people to solve serious and hard problems.”

. . .

McCain and Schumer sometimes take the lead in the meetings but others speak up as issues arise that are of special importance to them. Menendez has made family reunification a focus; Durbin has championed the cause of illegal immigrants brought to the country as children. Graham and Schumer have jointly tried to help broker an agreement between business and labor over a program to bring future workers to the country, which several lawmakers said remains the toughest challenge.

. . .

The legislation the group is working on would secure the border; provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country, contingent on a secure border first; crack down on employers; and improve legal immigration. Senators have indicated some consensus on elements related to border security and the path to citizenship.

They are struggling on the question of legal immigration and future workers, and are trading proposals with leaders of the AFL-CIO and Chamber of Commerce to try to get a deal.

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