Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “have rekindled their alliance on immigration reform, taking some early steps to test the political will for addressing the contentious issue this year,” POLITICO reports.
Their call list hasn’t focused so much on House and Senate members who’ve been reliable pro-immigration votes in the past. Instead, they’re looking to a strange-bedfellows mix of conservative and liberal constituencies that can provide a “safety net” of support, as Graham put it, once the issue heats up.
“It’s in the infant stage,” Graham told POLITICO. “I don’t know what the political appetite is to do something.”
Now, conservative evangelicals, the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union, business organizations and immigrant advocacy groups say they have gotten word from Schumer’s office that a renewed effort is under way. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce confirmed that it is back in the mix, after a hasty exit last year when Schumer proposed a legislative framework with a temporary worker program that favored labor unions.
And Schumer and his staff have quietly begun reaching out to some unlikely players in the Senate, including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who has professed a newfound freedom since winning reelection last year without the Republican Party’s help.
“What we’re doing is beginning these preliminary talks, particularly with outside groups, to try and regain the consensus that was pretty nicely formed last year,” Schumer said in a phone interview. “And who knows, we might surprise everyone and get something done. We realize it is a tough thing to do, but it is very important, and it’s worth a shot. We’ve been getting interesting, positive responses — from places you wouldn’t expect it.”