Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., says he is willing to delay implementation of a comprehensive immigration reform package until after President Obama leaves office -- as long as Republicans work with Democrats now to hammer out a plan.
Many Republicans have resisted moving on the issue because they say the president would selectively enforce some reforms, like a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, while ignoring other provisions, such as shoring up the nation's border with Mexico.
"So I said, look, if you feel that way, enact the bill now and then don't have it take effect till 2017," Schumer told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program on Thursday. "We could move everything back a little, the date that you have to be in this country for you to get legalized and work here and travel here."
Schumer, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, called immigration reform the "number one thing we could do to straighten [out] the country and get our country moving again."
"Too many people cross the border illegally who shouldn't be here, and we turn away people who should be here, whether it's working on agriculture or Ph.Ds who will create new jobs," he said.
The senator said the independent Congressional Budget Office has reported that a comprehensive immigration package would increase gross domestic product by 3.5 percent — "more than any Democratic spending program or any Republican [spending] cut program."
The Democratic-controlled Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill last year with significant bipartisan support. But the measure, which offers a path to citizenship, has stalled in the Republican-led House.
House Republican leaders say they're not against immigration reform but instead prefer to do so in a piecemeal fashion. One of those major components would deal with increasing border security.
But with congressional elections coming up in November, Capitol Hill lawmakers, particularly Republicans, likely won't be in the mood to tackle the controversial issue this year.