Immigration reform will be part of the "political equation" for Democrats as they work to maintain the support of Latino voters, said Bob Menendez (N.J.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Latinos believe reforming the country's immigration system is the "civil rights issue of their time," Menendez told the Newark Star-Ledger editorial board Wednesday.

"I think it's a real challenge at the end of the day not to seek progress on it and not to have progress on it," he said. "I think it has a political equation."

He said Latino Americans identity with the issue regardless of their immigration status.

"All of us who are U.S. citizens, all of us who are permanent residents, all of us who wear the uniform of the United States, when we hear the debates on immigration … to hear some senators saying, 'those people, those people,'" he said. "I've heard along the way what that means, 'those people.'

“So for Latinos, when they hear 'those people,' when they hear the immigration debate, when they hear how it's phrased, they view that issue beyond the undocumented brothers and sisters they have, they view it about themselves and their standing in the society," Menendez said.