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Rep. Israel 'optimistic' about bipartisan immigration reform framework

"I know it's a little early for optimism, but I am optimistic that we can find the right kind of commonsense reforms on immigration based on certain premises,” said Israel Monday on CNN’s “Starting Point.”

Israel’s comments come as a bipartisan group of senators say it has reached a framework to overhaul the nation's immigration laws. President Obama, who has said immigration reform is a top priority of his second term, will deliver an address on the issue in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Israel on Monday outlined the elements he would like to see in any deal.

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“One, that there needs to be path to legalization — earned citizenship for people who came here against the law," he said. "Number two, that we've got to secure our borders and have additional enforcement. Number three, that while we're being tough we're also being compassionate to people that can help our economy."

The bipartisan Senate framework to be unveiled on Monday centers around four key principles: a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the country, increasing the number of skilled workers immigrating to the United States, establishing an employer verification program and setting up a guest-worker program.

A pathway to citizenship has been a particularly thorny sticking point in early immigration reform negotiations, with Republicans deriding such a proposal as “amnesty.”

Israel, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), said that despite some likely GOP opposition, an immigration-reform overhaul would find enough support on both sides of the aisle.

"As long as we can get a critical mass — I don't expect every single Republican to join with us — but as long as we can get a critical mass I think we can get this done," Israel said. "The House Democrats want to find solutions, want to find the right kind of compromise. We need someone to negotiate with, and as long as Republicans will come to the table and reject this ‘my way or no way’ negotiating strategy that they have up to now, maybe we can produce a compromise that makes sense."

The eight senators who have signed on to the proposal include Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). They plan to formally unveil their proposal at a 2:30 p.m. Monday press conference.