Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced plans Sunday to revive a bipartisan immigration reform initiative that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States.
The plan proposed by Graham and Schumer would allow undocumented immigrants to eventually become citizens after fulfilling certain requirements. Graham stated that immigrants hoping to become citizens would have to learn English and pay back taxes, for example.
Previously, attempts at providing a pathway to citizenship have been roundly blocked by Republicans for offering “amnesty” to illegal immigrants. But after the 2012 presidential election saw record numbers of Hispanic voters turn out for Barack Obama, many Republicans are now much more open to issues concerning the Latino community.
In the presidential election, Romney took the traditional Republican line on immigration, stating that he would veto the Dream Act legalizing immigrants brought in as children who graduate from college.
Graham in particular believes that the Republican Party has abandoned Hispanic voters and will not have much of a future without making attempts to court the Hispanic demographic.
"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," Graham said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday. "[Republicans] have no one to blame but themselves when it comes to losing Hispanics, and we can get them back with some effort on our part."
But Graham stipulated that the path to citizenship should come only alongside a strengthening of the borders. However, he thinks deporting the millions of immigrants already in the country is an impractical endeavor.
"You do nothing until you fix the border," he said. "When it comes to the 12 million, we need to be firm and fair. Self-deportation's not going to work."
While the two senators are from different parties, they have expressed a strong desire to work together on the bill.
"I think we have a darn good chance using this blueprint to get something done this year," Schumer told NBC's “Meet the Press” on Sunday. "The Republican Party has learned that being anti-immigrant doesn't work for them politically, and they know it."
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