Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) maintained Wednesday that Congress will tackle comprehensive immigration reform this Congress, and perhaps even this year.
All of the fundamental building blocks are in place to pass comprehensive immigration reform this session and, even possibly, later this year, Schumer, the No. 3 Democratic leader, said during a speech before the Migration Policy Institute.
Schumer, chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, outlined key principles that must be part a reform bill, including strong enforcement of illegal immigration, an employer-based verification system and a direct path to citizenship.
The Democratic Conference vice chairman, who will join a group of lawmakers at the White House on Thursday for a summit on immigration, underscored the intensity for solving this problem once and for all this year. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has similarly suggested that immigration must be tackled sooner rather than later.
I have no doubt that President Obama has an unyielding commitment to achieving comprehensive immigration reform, Schumer said. And I truly believe that his leadership will be the critical difference in getting us over the hump this time around.
Schumer said the last legislative attempt in the 110th Congress failed because it wasnt strong enough in clamping down on illegal immigration. This year, he said, that issue must be a top priority.
I think on the part of the left, theres an understanding that unless we convince American were going to be really tough ... its the only way to do it, Schumer said.
With Republican losses among immigrant voters in the last election, Schumer said the GOP has an interest in moving on a reform bill as well.
Reid said Tuesday that immigration remains a top priority this year just behind health care reform and climate change legislation. He said he has spoken with White House officials on the matter, and despite a packed schedule that includes appropriations bills and a Supreme Court confirmation, the Majority Leader said he has the votes and the support to take on another complex issue this year. Obama, for his part, has said he wants to get negotiations rolling on immigration but hasnt laid out a timetable for passing a reform package.