NBC News | January 28, 2013
>>> the comprehensive immigration reform package they'd like to see. let's listen in to chuck schumer .
>> we still have a long way to go but this bipartisan blueprint is a major breakfthrough. it's our hope these principles can be turned in to legislation by march and have a mark-up by chairman leahy's committee with the goal of passage out by late spring or summer. senator durbin and i spoke to the president yesterday to update him on this group's progress and he couldn't be more pleased. he strongly supports this effort. the key to our compromise is to recognize that americans overwhelmingly oppose illegal immigration and support legal immigration . to this end, our framework contains four basic pillars. first, we create a tough but fair path to citizenship for illegal immigrants currently living in the united states that is contingent upon securing our borders. second, we reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the american economy and strengthen american families. third, we create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the future hires of unauthorized workers and lastly establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our workforce needs while simultaneously protecting all workers. other bipartisan groups of senators have stood in the same spot before trumpeting similar proposals but we believe this will be the year congress finally gets it done. the politics on this issue have been turned upside down. for the first time ever, there's more political risk in opposing immigration reform than in supporting it. we believe we have a window of opportunity to act. but we will only succeed if the effort is bipartisan. by their presence today, my republican colleagues are making a significant statement about the need to fix our broken immigration system. we democrats are equally serious. we do not want immigration as a wedge issue. much rather we want a bipartisan bill that solves the problem and becomes law. we recognize that in order to pass bipartisan legislation none of us can get everything we want. that's why our framework says we can address the status of people living here illegally while at the same time securing our borders and creating an immigration enforcement system that ensures we will not again confront another 11 million people coming here illegally. on day one of our bill, the people here without status who are not criminals or security risks will be able to live and work here legally. that will make it easier for them to learn english and integrate in to their communities without fear of deportation. but to prove to the american people that we're seriously -- that we are see you about permanently ending illegal immigration to the u.s. we say we'll never put the individuals on a path to citizenship until we have fully secured our borders and combatted the people overstaying their legal visas. we are asking our colleagues in the senate and the house to join us in this difficult work. it is time to work together to pass legislation that improves our security, grows our economy and ensures that we will continue to be a nation that lives up to the values of our founders. i'm going to turn it over to senator mccain in a minute. he's been the glue in our group. his wisdom, his strength, his courage, his steadfastness and many other objectives i'll skip at the moment. have really been inspiring to me and i think to all of us. and i want to just say, want me to go on? and i want to say that every member of our group including senator graham who couldn't be here today, senator mccain has a statement from him, have really been terrific in terms of understanding that we have to come to an agreement. we have to meet in the middle . that the mission of getting a bill done to strengthen america is more important than any of us clinging to a specific belief. and so, i'm optimistic. i'm truly optimistic, more than i was when we had our first meeting in december that we can get this done. and i really want to thank every one of the members here. it's been so far -- we're only a part of the way done. there are loads of pitfalls but it's been a great experience one so far and one i think gives us all a great deal of optimism. senator mccain .
>> i would like to thank schumer for his leadership. i'd like to thank the democratic leader dick durbin . there's not been anyone in america who has fought harder for the so-called dreamers that -- than dick durbin has and he'll continue to be -- have the gratitude of many americans. my friend senator rubio who obviously is a new but incredibly important voice in this whole issue of immigration reform . senator menendez is also played a key role. and of course, senator graham who is uncharacteristically absent of this gathering. it is difficult but achievable. i don't think i have to remind anyone the last major attempt was over six years ago. now we'll again attempt to commit the remaining resources needed to secure the border, modernize and streamline our current immigration system and create a tough but fair path to citizenship for those here illegally. and i would like to testify again the security situation along the southwest border is not perfect. it remains several areas, particularly in arizona where people's homes are being invaded, where drug smugglers are crossing property every night and the citizens deserve the same level of security that all of us standing here have. but there's no question there's been a significant reduction in illegal crossings over the past five years. apprehension of illegal immigrants by the border patrol dropped 70% from 2005 to 2012 . but their work is not yet complete. greater focus need to be paid to drug traffickers and criminals that cross the border. arizona continues to be a major smuggling corridor and distribution hub for drug trafficking organizations. to combat this, we need to continue to invest in high technology . uvas, radar, other proven surveillance system that is will give the border patrol the ability to detect and apprehend illegal entries in to the united states . it's achievable and can be completed within the next few years if we commit to it. in the next most important step is we don't repeat the mistakes of 1986 where we gave amnesty to 3 million people, promised the border would be secure and now, of course, we are dealing with 11 million people here illegally. so, that has to have increased in fines on employers that knowingly hire illegal workers. we have to have employment verification system that will end the hiring of future unauthorized immigrants. we need to shut off the mag naet attracts illegal workers. we'll put in place a legal worker program to provide a humane and effective system that allows immigrant workers to enter the country without seeking the aid of human traffickers or drug cartels . any immigration legislation that passes congress must establish practical, legal channels for workers to enter the united states whether they're high skill, low skill or agriculture workers to free up federal officials to focus on those individuals truly intending to do our nation harm through drug smuggling , people trafficking and possibly terrorism. providing the expedited path to citizenship for dreamers, developing a measurement to determine when the border is truly secure, reforming ow future immigration system to better meet the needs of our employers, ensuring an entry-exit system to combat visa overstays and creating a program that makes certain u.s. agriculture has the necessary workers to maintain america 's food supply are some of the issues that we committed to addressing and solving in a bipartisan manner. finally, we come to the most controversial piece of immigration reform and that's how to deal with the approximately 11 million people living in the united states outside of legal status . when's going on now is unacceptable. in reality, what's been created is a defacto amnesty. we have been too content for too long to allow individuals to mow our lawn, serve our food, clean our homes and even watch our children while not affording them any of the benefits that make our country so great. i think everyone agrees that it's not beneficial for our country to have these people here hidden in the shadows. let's create a system to bring them forward, allow them to settle their debt to society and fulfill the necessary requirements to become law-abiding citizens of this country. this is consistent with our country's tradition of being a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. i'd like to read senator lindsey graham 's brief statement. he says, i hope the third time is a charm. i've enjoyed working with any senate colleagues in drafting these principles and believe we're off to a good start. bipartisan immigration principles represent a real breakthrough on substance and i hope seen as a breakthrough for a political coalition to finally solve our immigration problems. the coalition must also include the president and the house of representatives . my hope is immigration reform bill will start in the senate and receive an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote. we are a long way from legislative language but i believe 2013 represents us the best chance to pass immigration reform in many years. the time is right and the way forward while difficult is being better defined by the day and with the reasonable amount of political give and take we'll be successful. however, if for some reason we fail in our efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform , i do believe it will be many years before anyone is willing to try and solve this problem. we should start this new attempt hopefully with full understanding of how difficult the tax is. and finally, last couple of days we have been ability to event what was called a nuclear option in the united states senate . a lot of people don't appreciate how important it was for us to get that