By Alexander Bolton - 01/28/10 06:28 PM EST
Senate Democrats have reached out to former CNN anchor and prominent illegal-immigration opponent Lou Dobbs in an
effort to build broad bipartisan support for immigration reform.
Winning the support of Dobbs, who became a prominent critic of illegal immigration and proposals to grant amnesty to illegal workers, could provide a significant boost to reform efforts.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is spearheading the Democrats’ effort to put together a comprehensive reform bill, met with Dobbs on Wednesday.
“We’re meeting with all different kinds of groups, trying to get everybody together to come out for one bill,” Schumer said.
Dobbs built up a large viewership for his show, “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” by striking a conservative populist stance and frequently criticizing the flood of illegal workers into the nation.
Dobbs was an outspoken critic of waiving penalties against illegal workers but has since said that government officials should consider legalizing illegal immigrants “under certain conditions."
Schumer noted that Dobbs, who left CNN in November, is “changing his views on immigration.”
The third-ranking member of the Democratic leadership said he is looking for two Republicans to co-sponsor legislation.
“We have to have this bill be a bipartisan bill [and have] two Democrats and two Republicans to introduce it,” Schumer said. “We’re not there yet; we’re still working on getting our Republicans.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he supports efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, but he declined to set a timeline.
“You get into trouble by setting deadlines,” Reid said. “It’s something we’re committed to do, and we’ll do it as soon as we can.”
Senate Democratic leaders say they have discussed their strategy for immigration reform with President Barack Obama.