Schumer sees Senate debate on immigration in June

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer predicted the immigration bill would get to the Senate floor by June, amid Republican charges that Democrats are rushing the bill through before the public can understand the contents.

The bill will be published Tuesday evening, allowing a markup to begin in early May, according to timing set by Senate rules, he predicted.

In early May, “we will begin marking up the bill,” Schumer said. “[Sens.] Jeff Sessions, Chuck Grassley, opponents of the bill, can offer all the amendments they like, and we hope to have the bill on the [Senate] floor in late May or early June.”

Schumer spoke to the press April 16, shortly after meeting President Barack Obama in the White House.

“The president, one thing he made clear, he wants to have an open process but he doesn’t want to delay and drag things out, because that’s the way things get killed,” Schumer said. “That’s one of the most important points he made.”

“One of the things we all agree with is that there ought to be a open process so that people who don’t agree can offer their amendments,” he said.

But the “Gang of Eight” senators who drafted the bill will stick together to protect it from damaging amendments, he added.

“We in the group, and our friends and colleagues who are supportive, [agree that] sticking together to make sure the core of the bill is intact is important,” he told reporters gathered outside the White House.

So far, Democrats have agreed to hold only two hearings, frustrating opponents — such as Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions — who say senators and the public should be allowed time to understand the bill.

According to a summary released this morning, the bill will provide a multi-staged path to legalization for at least 10 million illegal immigrants, quick citizenship for roughly 1 million illegals brought into the country at a younger age, and a quick process to provide green cards for roughly 4.5 million people now waiting to joint their citizen-relatives already in the country.

The bill will also set up new channels for business to bring in extra workers each year. By 2017, these channels will bring in roughly 250,000 blue-collar and white-collar workers, and 250,000 with university degrees.

The inflow adds to current immigration, which now includes roughly 690,000 seasonal and long-term workers, and 450,000 working-age relatives of American citizens.