Schumer-Graham Redux?

In the run-up to last year’s midterm elections, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) were the last hope for a bipartisan immigration reform bill, as they worked to hammer out compromise legislation that never materialized. Senator Graham quit the partnership in April, and with that, comprehensive immigration reform was consigned to the “maybe next year” pile.

Now it seems the Schumer-Graham partnership is back on, at least for now. reports that the Senators are canvassing potential supporters in their respective parties who might be willing to give a bipartisan immigration bill one more shot. (See Senators Look for Immigration Deal, by Carrie Budoff Brown,, 07.Feb.2011). According to, both Senators are putting out feelers to a very diverse group of stakeholders, including “conservative evangelicals, the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union, business organizations, and immigrant advocacy groups.”

Although there are signs that the GOP may be willing to negotiate on many of the difficult issues that shape our immigration problems, obstacles remain, as points out: “Republicans control the House, and they can’t say it often enough: A pathway to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants won’t fly on their watch.” In addition, says Politico, it may be a liability for Democrats to have Senator Schumer as the public face of their immigration reform efforts, because he also serves at the party’s “attack dog,” constantly criticizing the GOP.

Still, the article does not rule out a possible compromise bill coming to the floor in the coming months, noting that the approach of the 2012 elections may induce GOP members to consider the costs of NOT doing immigration reform – especially given the growing clout of the Latino electorate, a group they will need to draw closer if they want to win the White House back. Stay tuned.

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