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Schumer optimistic about immigration bill

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that an immigration-reform bill has “a very decent chance of getting done” this Congress.


Schumer is working with a group of senators on a bipartisan framework, and said President Obama has given them “the space we need” to hammer out a deal. He said he was "hopeful" about producing a bill in March.

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But Schumer acknowledged talks could be complicated by a White House draft immigration bill leaked Saturday, as first reported by USA Today.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called the reported plan “dead on arrival.”

Rubio and Schumer comprise two members of the bipartisan Senate “Gang of Eight," who unveiled their immigration blueprint last month.

The group’s framework for a bill includes creating a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, strengthened border security and efforts to increase high-skilled immigration and employee verification.

Rubio said the reported administration plan,though, would leave the U.S. “with unsecured borders and a broken legal immigration system for years to come.”

A White House spokesman would not confirm the details of the report, but told CNN that it intends to let Congress lead the immigration push.

Schumer said Rubio was “upset with this leak.” He said he talked to the Florida Republican, who is “fully on board with our process.”

Schumer also said he understood the leaked White House proposal, which he had not seen, “wasn’t their final or complete bill.”

The White House draft would establish a “Lawful Prospective Immigrant” visa that permits people to work and travel after paying fees and passing a criminal background check. After eight years under the visa, immigrants could apply for permanent residency status with a green card. The draft also boosts Border Patrol spending, adds federal immigration judges and expands the use of E-Verify.

Regardless of who leads the charge, any bill that creates an avenue for citizenship for illegal immigrants is likely to run into GOP opposition in the House. Many Republicans see such measures as amnesty.