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Senators Divided On How Close They Are To Immigration Deal

Danny Lee |
March 31, 2013 | 7:37 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Sen. Marco Rubio doesn't appear to be as optimistic as other Gang of Eight members on the progress of immigration reform. (Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons)
Sen. Marco Rubio doesn't appear to be as optimistic as other Gang of Eight members on the progress of immigration reform. (Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons)
Key lawmakers said a bipartisan group of senators has resolved all major issues in ironing out a deal to reform the U.S. immigration system and plans to unveil it after Congress reconvenes in the second week of April, Reuters reported.

Although no final deal has been reached, lawmakers said they expect to see one soon once the measure is put into legislative language for all eight senators to review. The bill will include an earned pathway to citizenship for the nation's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, tougher border security and ways for employers to meet the need for both high-skilled and low-skilled workers.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO reached an agreement on a guest-worker program on Friday, paving the way for a full bill to be written.

"With the agreement between business and labor, every major policy issue has been resolved," said Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the bipartisan Gang of Eight given the task of rewriting the nation's immigration laws. "We've all agreed that we're not going to come to a final agreement until we see draft legislative language and we agree on that."

But as momentum builds toward a comprehensive immigration reform bill, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida appears to be taking a cautious stance, according to the Washington Post.

"Reports that the bipartisan group of eight senators have agreed on a legislative proposal are premature," Rubio said in a statement. "He added that "this process cannot be rushed or done in secret."

More from the Washington Post:

Democrats and immigration advocates say Rubio is crucial to the process of overhauling the nation’s laws in a way that offers a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, and they are enthused by his participation in the Senate working group. They recognize the need for Rubio to move deliberately as he attempts to pull more conservative factions into the fold on immigration.

But at the same time, many liberals are concerned about the mixed signals Rubio, whose parents immigrated from Cuba, has offered in public pronouncements and wonder if he is looking for a potential escape hatch if the political heat becomes too great

Rubio, a rising star in the GOP, faces the challenge of being a conservative tea party hero, while also trying to position himself as a 2016 presidential candidate who can help the party build support among Latino voters. Immigration activists say the Florida senator will be involved in talks for the long haul since a breakdown in immigration negotiations would likely result in blame directed toward Republicans and not President Obama.

"The crosscurrents are wicked," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, a leading immigration advocacy group. "But he's going to have to stand his ground and take some incoming fire and then be able to say, 'I procured a victory.'"


Read more Neon Tommy stories on immigration here.

Reach Executive Producer Danny Lee here; follow him here.



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