Schumer: 'The Sooner, the Better' for 'Narrow' Immigration Bill; 'Let It Rip'

By Susan Jones | February 14, 2018 | 7:50 AM EST

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) (Photo: C-SPAN/Screen grab)

( - Getting 60 votes for a bipartisan immigration bill "is not easy," but it's time to try, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told a news conference on Tuesday.

"Well, I think the sooner, the better," Schumer told a news conference. "And if we can come up with a bipartisan compromise that looks like it's right in the ballpark of 60, let it rip. Let's go."

Schumer said Democrats want to do two things: protect dreamers and get 60 votes.

But President Trump wants to do four things: Protect dreamers, secure the border, limit chain migration, and transform the diversity visa lottery.

"We continue to believe that a narrow proposal has the best chance of passing the Senate," Schumer said, meaning a bill that does not include all of Trump's proposals. "We recognize we're not going to get everything we want. We hope the president and Republicans realize the same."

A reporter asked Schumer what happens if the Senate cannot muster 60 votes to pass an immigration bill this week.

"Well, we're going to keep fighting in every way we can. But right now, our focus is getting to 60. That's going to take a lot of push and pull, a lot of compromise. No one is going to get everything they want. That's how we work around here," Schumer said.

"But we can end up, hopefully, like the budget deal, where both sides thought that they had gotten some very valuable things. No one was happy with every single thing, but it worked for the benefit of America."

Schumer said it "makes no sense" to include the chain migration issue (he calls it "family unification") in a bill giving legal status and a pathway to citizenship to 1.8 million dreamers.

"We Democrats have always said that the issue of family unification is something not part of DREAM. You want to do that. We did it in comprehensive immigration reform once, we can do it there again.

But to put that as part of the mix here makes no sense. Then we Democrats would say, 'All right. Let's look at the 11 million who are living in the shadows.' So you -- once you go outside the boundaries of chain -- of border security (and) Dreamers, you run in -- experience shows you run amok."

In other words, for Democrats, the price for border security and Trump's wall is legal status for 1.8 million dreamers.

But the price for limiting chain migration and the diversity visa lottery is accomodation for all 11 million people who are estimated to be in this country illegally.

At a news conference of his own on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) it shouldn't take too long to find out if there are 60 votes in the Senate for any given immigration proposal.

"We should be able to discover it in the next few days and hopefully make some progress for the American people on this important issue."

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