Bipartisan Congressional Talks Resume on Immigration Reform

After a gap of two years, Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham are resuming their comprehensive immigration talks that would offer a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants while securing the country's borders.

Schumer of New York said during an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that the two of them "are talking to our colleagues about this right now, and I think we have a darn good chance, using this blueprint, to get something done this year."

The Democratic senator said they have prepared a "comprehensive detailed blueprint" with "the real potential for bipartisan support," adding that the Republican Party had learned that "being anti-immigrant doesn't work for them politically, and they know it."

"Our plan, just to be quick, does four things. First of all, close the border. Make sure that's shut," Schumer explained. "Second, make sure that there is a non-forgeable document so that employers can tell who is legal and who is illegal. And once they hire someone illegally, throw the book at them. That will stop illegal immigration in its track."

He continued: "Third, on legal immigration, let in the people we need, whether they be engineers from our universities ... 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."

Republican strategist Steve Schmidt said during an interview with "Meet the Press" on Sunday that "the Republican Party needs to get it together on its outreach to Latinos. And it's good to hear that Lindsey Graham and Chuck Schumer are going to start advancing comprehensive immigration reform again because we have to get this off the table as a political issue for the party."

Graham also presented his proposal during an interview with CBS' "Face the Nation," saying applicants would need to pay a fine and then begin to pay taxes. Not mentioning Schumer, Graham added that applicants must also learn to speak English and "get in the back of line. They can't cut in front of the line regarding people who are doing it right."

Graham went on to say that the overhaul should ensure that "we don't have a third wave of illegal immigration" two decades later. "That's what Americans want. They want more legal immigration and they want to fix illegal immigration once and for all."

The spotlight is on immigration reform after President Barack Obama in his victory speech said he would revisit the issue. The Republican Party has also softened its stance on immigration, apparently because exit polls showed that more than 70 percent of Hispanic voters supported Obama in the election.

House Speaker John Boehner has also changed his hardline stance on the issue. He called comprehensive immigration reform "long overdue" in an interview with ABC News' "World News" last Thursday. Boehner also said that he was "confident that the president, myself, others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all."

"This issue has been around far too long... ... a comprehensive approach is long overdue," the speaker added. Asked whether he favored a pathway to citizenship, he responded by saying, "I'm not going to get into any of the details of how you would get there. It's just time to get the job done."

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