Leahy to Rubio: Need is 'urgent' to pass immigration reform

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"As soon as we have comprehensive immigration legislation to review, I will consider scheduling a hearing, in consultation with [Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)], the Ranking Republican on Committee, and [Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)], the Immigration Subcommittee Chair, to examine that proposal," Leahy writes.

Leahy's letter is in response to one sent by Rubio, a member of the bipartisan group of senators working on an immigration reform bill, two days earlier urging the Judiciary chairman not to move too quickly on passing immigration reform. Rubio argued in his letter that "excessive haste" in moving an immigration reform plan to the Senate floor is "more dangerous" than moving slowly.

"A rush to legislate, without fully considering all views and input from all senators, would be fatal to the effort of earning the public’s confidence," Rubio wrote.

Leahy began his letter noting that Rubio is the second Republican senator suggesting that "we slow the process for consideration of comprehensive immigration reform."

The Democrat from Vermont said he would try to not let the legislation get bogged down in "unnecessary delay."

"I will, however, remain mindful of the urgent need for us to actually get to the work of debating and considering amendments without unnecessary delay because this is an issue to which our attention is long overdue," Leahy continued. "I am hopeful you recognize, as I do, that if we do not act quickly and decisively we will lose the opportunity we now have to fix our immigration system."

Rubio and the other members of the so-called Gang of Eight immigration reform group hope to release the legislation in April. Leahy said he would like the entire Senate to vote on the legislation in the summer.

"By this summer, I hope that all members of the Senate will be able to vote for or against comprehensive immigration reform and that each member will take into consideration the significant process that the Senate Judiciary Committee will have completed," Leahy writes.

Leahy wants to meet with Rubio and the other members of the immigration reform group when the Senate comes back into session.

"To this end, I would like to find time to sit down and discuss this with you and all the members of the gang of eight as soon as the Senate is back in session," Leahy concluded in the letter.