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RNC Immigration Push Has Its Skeptics

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
The Republican National Committee, led by Priebus, above, released a report Monday chronicling the issues that contributed to the GOP’s losses in November. The report endorsed passing an immigration overhaul but offered no specific details or policy proposals.

Sessions said Congress should bring together experts before writing a bill. He argued that the current process reflects the failed effort of 2007, when he said special interests, including lawmakers looking for a political win, tried to pass a measure that didn’t hold up to scrutiny.

“This looks too much like last time,” Sessions said. “Last time, the special interests met and they drew up the bill and tried to ram it through Congress before anybody could find out really what was in it.”

He added, “And if you were to have a comprehensive bill, it can’t be done in a matter of weeks. You are talking about a lot of intensive work over many months,” if not years.

Meanwhile, advocates of overhauling the nation’s immigration system welcomed support from the RNC, which urged Republicans to embrace the issue in an effort to keep the party competitive in future elections.

“I very much appreciate the RNC’s stance on immigration reform,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said through his office. “This is a major and constructive step forward for the Republican Party.”

A spokesman for Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida also praised RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’ leadership on the issue.

“We certainly welcome Reince and the RNC’s support in passing immigration reform,” said Alex Conant, a spokesman for Rubio. “Modernizing the immigration system is a bipartisan goal that will grow our economy and improve our national security, and we’re optimistic that we will pass reform this year with strong Republican support. The RNC is a critical organization to our party’s future success, and Marco appreciates Reince’s leadership of the organization.”

Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, who is head of the Senate Democrats’ communications and policy arm, also praised the RNC’s move.

“We are hopeful the leaders within the Republican Party will take this suggestion to heart,” Schumer said in a release. “If so, it could provide a real boost for the prospects for immigration reform. The truth is, neither party benefits from a continued impasse on this issue. If Republicans dig in against common-sense reform, it will be hard for their party to move forward. But if Democrats try to use immigration as a partisan, wedge issue rather than seek real solutions, it will backfire on them, too.”

Schumer, Graham and Rubio are part of the group of eight senators working on drafting immigration legislation that they hope to unveil in April. They released a framework for the bill in January, which included providing a path to citizenship, revamping the existing immigration system, reducing the hiring of undocumented workers and creating a guest worker program.

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