There’s little room to debate that immigration reform will not be a priority in the next Congress says Menendez (D-N.J.). He signaled during a press conference at the Center for American Progress that the Senate would serve as the catalyst for immigration reform to take place.
“When the Sean Hannity’s of the world and others begin not to talk about any intelligent basis for immigration reform as amnesty – I actually welcome Hannity’s evolution,” said Menendez. “With the conversations that I’ve had with a couple of my colleagues, I believe that they’re serious.”
Menendez added, “Does that mean that we are in total agreement about what immigration reform will look like? No.”
Democratic allies suggest that immigration reform is in the Republicans court. Yet, there’s little insight as to what Republicans or Democrats would oppose. For one, Menendez acknowledged that he would not champion an immigration reform package that does not offer a pathway to citizenship.
According to Latino Decisions, surveys showed that not many Latinos would favor a reform package that does not offer a pathway to citizenship. On his end, Robert Menendez outlined what he thought should be essential components for a comprehensive package.
The New Jersey Senator said the process should allow undocumented persons to come forward and undergo a criminal background check and those who pass will get a pending status. They will have to learn English and will need to be in “good standing.” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also indicated last Sunday that he is undergoing conversations with Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) on passing immigration reform.
“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,” Graham said Sunday on CBS’s “Face The Nation.
Sen. Robert Menendez – immigration reform bill
What Senator Menendez outlined sounded a lot like a bill he introduced in 2011.
Robert Menendez introduced an immigration reform bill with U.S. Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) John Kerry (D-MA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
The bill included measures to strengthen border security, enhance worksite enforcement of immigration laws, and requirements that the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants present in the U.S. register with the government, pay their taxes, learn English, pay a fine, pass a background check, and wait in line for permanent residence.
Menendez holds plenty of clout in the Senate and he has extended his political will to work across party lines. He also collaborates closely with Sen. Marco Rubio on Western Hemisphere Affairs. In terms of criticism that suggests Republicans would fear being “primaried” during the upcoming elections, Matt Barreto said immigration reform never rated above five percent as the most important issue in any state within the Republican primary.
“It’s an issue that some in the Tea Party use with a large megaphone, but we don’t see it as something that is driving the conservative vote,” said Barreto.
In addition, Latino Decisions cites that for the first time in history the share of the national popular vote margin among Latino voters was higher than the general population with immigration playing a leading factor in the voter favorability for the president.
According to the Pew Hispanic Center projections, Hispanics will account for 40 percent of the growth in the eligible electorate in the U.S. between now and 2030, at which time 40 million Hispanics will be eligible to vote, up from 23.7 million.
“That means that if Latinos had evenly divided their vote between both presidential candidates, the outcomes could have very well been reversed,” said Menendez.