Cornyn Open to Working on Immigration Reform

Posted April 30, 2010 at 11:39am

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) is leaving the door open to working with Democrats on comprehensive immigration reform — so long as President Barack Obama commits to using his bully pulpit to advance legislation.

Most other Republicans have dismissed as a political ploy a framework released by Senate Democrats on Thursday, arguing it is designed to help Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) secure his re-election. But Cornyn told the newspaper La Opinion that while he was “surprised” to see Reid, Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and other Democrats unveil their blueprint, “There’s lots of it that is good.”

But Cornyn, who is the ranking member on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, cautioned that “the problem is that the details are very important and need to be resolved.” He told La Opinion that he is open to discussing the bill with Schumer and other Democrats, so long as the White House makes a commitment to leading on the issue.

Cornyn, who was a key negotiator on a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2007, told the paper that he has told Schumer he “is willing to work, but I also said that the President needs to use his political influence to move this.”

Schumer has targeted a handful of Republicans — Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), George LeMieux (Fla.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Judd Gregg (N.H.) and Dick Lugar (Ind.) — as potential negotiators on a bipartisan immigration bill. The New York Democrat turned to those lawmakers after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), dropped out of negotiations.

However, Cornyn said he has also had periodic talks with Schumer over the past year, and Reid’s office has targeted the conservative Texas as a potential partner.

The Democrats’ 22-page legislative summary, based on the now-defunct talks between Graham and Schumer, would establish a series of border security benchmarks that must be met before broader reforms are enacted.

The bill also requires employers to ensure their workers are legal immigrants, includes new visa provisions for high-tech and low-skilled workers, and establishes a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 12 million undocumented people in the U.S.