Apparently under pressure from immigration reform advocates who will march Sunday on the Capitol, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C.) published their blueprint for an immigration reform bill on Thursday and President Barack Obama quickly expressed his support for it.
Shortly before, in a little noticed bit of news, the initiative may have found a much-sought-after second GOP senator to support it. Despite widespread opposition among Republicans, Sen. Jon Cornyn (R.-Texas) said he was committed to finding “common ground” on the issue, according to a Spanish-language media outlet.
As expected, the Schumer-Graham plan has a stronger focus on enforcement of border security and hiring practices than the one introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D.-Ill.) in December.
In a op-ed in The Washington Post, the senators wrote:
Our plan has four pillars: requiring biometric Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs; fulfilling and strengthening our commitments on border security and interior enforcement; creating a process for admitting temporary workers; and implementing a tough but fair path to legalization for those already here.
Despite the public gestures, which may be followed Friday by additional announcements from the administration, according to an activist, doubts persist on Capitol Hill on the overhaul’s chances of passing this year. Graham himself warned that Republicans would not support it if Obama and the Democrats pass health care reform using a controversial parliamentary maneuver.
One of the key to-do’s emerging from last week’s meeting between Obama and the two senators was finding another Republican who would support the bill.
Earlier Thursday, Senator Cornyn told Spanish-language wire service Agencia EFE that he was committed to finding “common ground” towards a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
“The problem is there’s no bill yet, there’s no written proposal. I want to see the proposal, see what’s in there… but it won’t happen without leadership from President Obama,” Cornyn said. (This is a re-translation of his remarks, which were reported in Spanish.)
Cornyn told EFE he has discussed the issue with Schumer and said he was ready to work to resolve their disagreements over the propsed bill.
The wire service interviewed Cornyn after he took part in a U.S.-Mexico legislative conference on border issues, during which he said that “the status quo (on immigration) is simply unacceptable.”