Senate Democrats have “found a Republican in Sen. Lindsey Graham to help them push for passage of a comprehensive immigration overhaul this year,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
But the lag in getting prominent support from a Republican — more than two months after Democrats first announced their push — shows how complicated prospects for passage could be this year, as immigration remains a wedge inside an increasingly divided GOP.
Democrats and Republicans say Mr. Graham of South Carolina is working behind the scenes with Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) to gain support from other GOP members. Mr. Schumer is quarterbacking this year’s campaign for an overhaul.
The bill is still taking shape, but it is expected to include key features of unsuccessful 2006 and 2007 immigration proposals, including a path to legal status for many of the illegal immigrants already inside the U.S. and measures to strengthen border security. The proposal to allow illegal immigrants to achieve legal status has drawn opposition from those who see it as an unwarranted reward for breaking the law.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is “is likely to introduce a bill after senators return in September, although a health-care overhaul and other legislative efforts are higher priorities for congressional Democrats and the Obama administration.”
Senator Graham is ready to help, his office says:
Wes Hickman, a spokesman for Mr. Graham, said in a statement that "Senator Graham is ready and willing to play a key role in immigration reform. He intends to work with many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle."
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who has been a key leader on the issue in years past, is not expected to “play a prominent role this year.” He has a Republican primary challenge to worry about back home, with immigration being a key issue in the race.