Immigration Reform 2012: Senators Put Forth Bipartisan Immigration Reform Blueprint


Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have announced they are restarting talks about a bipartisan and comprehensive immigration reform, which includes both high-tech, fraud-proof Social Security cards (to prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers) and a potential path to citizenship for the approximately 12 million illegal immigrants who currently live in the United States. 

Schumer made the announcement on NBC's Meet the Press: "(...) I think we have a darned good chance using this blueprint to get something done this year. The Republican Party has learned that being ... anti-immigrant doesn't work for them politically. And they know it." 

President Barack Obama was reelected on November 6 with about 66% of support from the growing population of Hispanic voters, conquering even Florida's Cuban-American voters who have been historically considered a Republican constituency. The president had described the 2010 Schumer/Graham immigration proposal as a "promising framework" on immigration reform. Unfortunately, the proposal didn't fly among Tea Party conservatives. 

The new Graham/Schumer blueprint has four components: 

1. High-tech, fraud-proof Social Security cards to ensure that undocumented workers cannot be hired.

2. Strengthening border security and current enforcement of immigration laws.

3. Creating a process for admitting temporary workers.

4. Implementing a path to legal status for immigrants who already in the country (in which immigrants have to learn English, go to the back of the visa line, have a job, and a clean record). 

The plan should resonate with lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle, since even influential conservatives — such as Fox News host Sean Hannity — have announced their support for comprehensive immigration reform in the wake of the Republicans' 2012 shellacking among Latinos (because of their anti-immigration rhetoric).   

Obama's win among Latinos is largely due to the administration's June announcement of relaxing deportation rules among young undocumented persons who were brought to the country as children (and have not been convicted of a felony).  

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the president's 2012 Republican challenger, likely saw its support sink among Latinos when during the GOP primary debates he proposed "self-deportation" (make conditions for undocumented immigrants so miserable that they decide to leave the country) as his immigration policy. 

Meanwhile, humbled Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on Friday that the immigration system is broken, and that Obama had to take the lead but that he's confident Republicans could find common ground with the president.