In the wake of President Obama’s reelection, due in part to his winning Hispanic voters by 44 points, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have restarted bipartisan discussions over comprehensive immigration reform.
On the Sunday talk shows, both sounded bullish about reaching an agreement.
“Senator Graham and I have talked, and we are resuming the talks that were broken off two years ago,” Schumer said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “We had put together a comprehensive detailed blueprint on immigration reform. It had the real potential for bipartisan support.”
“Graham and I are talking to our colleagues about this right now,” he said, “and I think we have a darn good chance using this blueprint to get something done this year.”
It’s a new-found optimism fueled by Republican concerns of looming demographic doom. Following Mitt Romney’s defeat, multiple influential conservatives — such as Charles Krauthammer and Sean Hannity — are eager to repair GOP fissures with Latinos and have endorsed immigration reform, including amnesty for those in the country illegally, as one way to do that.
“It’s one thing to shoot yourself in the foot,” Graham said on CBS’ “Face The Nation,” referring to GOP support among Hispanics. “Just don’t reload the gun.”
“So I intend not to reload this gun when it comes to Hispanics,” he said. “I intend to tear this wall down and pass an immigration reform bill that’s an American solution to an American problem. But we have nobody to blame but ourselves when it comes to losing Hispanics. And we can get them back with some effort on our part.”
The two senators began talks early in President Obama’s first term for an immigration deal, but Graham pulled out in the spring of 2010 as his party was strengthening its opposition to Obama’s agenda. The blueprint included improving border security, cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants, clearing the way for immigrants that the country needs, and providing a path to citizenship for undocumented people.
“The Republican Party needs to get it together on its outreach to Latinos, and it’s good to hear that Lindsey Graham and Chuck Schumer are going to start advancing comprehensive immigration reform again,” said Steve Schmidt, who ran John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, on the “Meet The Press” roundtable. “Because we have to get this off the table as a political issue for the party.”
Schumer was more blunt: “The Republican Party has learned that being anti-immigrant doesn’t work for them politically,” he said. “And they know it.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.