Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said Thursday that he’d bet “quite a bit” that comprehensive immigration reforming will pass Congress and that he wouldn’t rule out something happening by the end of the year.
“I still think it’s possible this year,” he said at the Washington Ideas Forum hosted by The Atlantic. “But if it’s not, I think we have a real good chance to do it in the first half of next year. … If I had to bet money, we’re going to have an immigration reform bill on the president’s desk.”
Mr. Schumer was part of a bipartisan group that wrote a bill the Senate passed earlier this year to provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of people currently living in the country illegally.
House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, firmly rejected the Senate’s approach Wednesday, which called for quick legal status for most illegal immigrants, though it withheld a full pathway to citizenship until after the Homeland Security Department invested in more Border Patrol agents, doubled the length of pedestrian fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, and purchased more equipment and technology.
The Senate bill also would revamp the legal immigration system to let in more foreigners based on job skills or deep family ties.
Mr. Schumer said in a statement Wednesday that he thought the Republican-dominated House would “come to its senses and realize that we have to fix our immigration system in a bipartisan way.”
“They have to do something, and the Republican leadership in the House knows that — Speaker Boehner knows that,” Mr. Schumer said Thursday. “At the same time, they can’t do it without Democrats.”
Top House Republicans have rejected the Senate’s broad approach and said they would write a series of bills dealing with immigration in piecemeal fashion. House committees have cleared bills dealing with border security, interior enforcement and guest-worker programs, and leaders were working on a bill that would have legalized young illegal immigrants.
“It would be nice if we could get something done this year — I wouldn’t rule it out — but I think all the fuss about Obamacare, all the problems that have occurred, have made it less likely to do something now, [because] my guess — [Republicans] may not want to go off that message,” Mr. Schumer said Thursday.