The U.S. Senate's bipartisan "gang of eight" unveiled the immigration reform bill they had been working on for months at a Thursday press conference.
"Our immigration system is broken and it is time for a national conversation about how to fix it," the senators said in a joint statement. "We believe common sense immigration reform is vital in order to secure America's borders, advance our economic growth, and provide fuller access to the American dream."
The gang of eight includes four Republicans – Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John McCain (Ariz.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) – and four Democrats – Michael Bennet (Colo.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Robert Menendez (N.J.) and Chuck Schumer (N.Y.)
The senators emphasized that the proposal is a starting point and it will go through the usual committee markups and floor debates.
"Our bipartisan proposal is a starting point, and will be strengthened by good-faith input and ideas from across the ideological spectrum. We look forward to multiple Senate hearings on this bill, an open committee process with amendments, and a full and fair debate in the Senate," the statement read.
At the press conference, Durbin suggested that the bill should be called the "Schumer-McCain" bill in recognition of the hard work that those two senators put into the legislation.
Schumer also got choked up while reflecting on the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). Their work picks up "where he left off," Schumer said.
"We are a nation with a conscience that can't tolerate violations of basic human rights," McCain remarked.
McCain also made fun of himself as he noted that he is "not the easiest to get along with" and the other members "put up with my tantrums."
Rubio reflected on the importance of immigrants in the history of the United States.
"It's tragic that a nation of immigrants is divided on immigration," Rubio said.
He also said that the immigration system must be reformed because the current system is not working.
"Leaving things the way they are, that's the real amnesty," he remarked.
A reporter pointed out that gun control legislation just failed to pass the day before and asked how the fate of the immigration bill would be any different.
McCain answered that the difference will be the broad, dedicated support the legislation enjoys, and he pointed out the people standing behind him on the stage from across the political spectrum representing business, labor and faith communities.
The committee work on the bill is expected to begin the first week of May. A copy of the bill can be found here.