Hoping to break the impasse over immigration reform, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday floated a compromise proposal that would delay the implementation of any changes beyond President Obama's tenure.
Republicans have long been divided on the issue, but this year, they're blaming their reluctance to act on a distrust in Obama to implement the law in good faith.
"Many Republicans have said … they want to do immigration reform, but they don't trust the president to enforce the law, particularly the enforcement parts," Schumer said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "So there's a simple solution. Let's enact the law this year, but simply not let it actually start 'til 2017 — after President Obama's term is over."
Appearing on the same show, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who voted against a Senate-passed immigration bill last summer, said he's open to Schumer's idea, but only if the bill also includes tougher enforcement measures.
"I think some Republicans would be interested in that, if we put in place the enforcement measures so that it would work," Portman said. "In other words, be sure the border is secure, [and] be sure that you have a workforce enforcement program that works."
Portman said the Republicans' concerns are based on their experience with the 1986 immigration reform law, "where we did provide legalization but didn't do the enforcement."
"Three million people were legalized; another 6 million people came illegally," he said. "So I think that's what Republicans are looking for is enforcement first."
Obama has made comprehensive immigration reform a primary goal of his second term. The issue hopped a huge hurdle last summer when a comprehensive reform package passed the Senate with broad bipartisan support, and it appeared to be moving in the House this year, after GOP leaders last month unveiled a set of "principles" outlining their goals.
But House conservatives pushed back hard, particularly on a provision that would allow illegal immigrants to remain in the country and work without a fear of deportation. Faced with that pressure, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday suggested he's in no hurry to consider any legislation, citing Obama as the source of his misgivings.
"The American people, including many of my members, don't trust that the reform that we're talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be," Boehner (R-Ohio) said.
Schumer characterized that argument as "false," noting Obama has deported far more illegal immigrants than former President George W. Bush and other predecessors.
"But," he added, "you could actually have the law start in 2017 without doing much violence to it.
"So [it's] simple: Let's say to our Republican colleagues, 'You don't trust Obama? Enact the law now, but put it into effect in 2017,' " Schumer said. "And we can get something done [this year]."
— This report was originally published at 10:20 a.m. and last updated at 12:08 p.m.