Lindsey Graham optimistic on immigration reform

Lindsey Graham R-South Carolina. Photo: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images
Lindsey Graham R-South Carolina. Photo: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Republican members of the Senate’s Gang of Eight are not as optimistic as their Democratic counterparts on agreeing to an immigration deal, according to Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

“Seventy-thirty, we get there,” Graham said Sunday on Meet the Press; Graham pointed to differences over a proposed guest worker program and the requirements for a “path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S. He also dismissed speculation that Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was distancing himself from negotiations and would not support the final plan.

In response to criticism that the proposed path to citizenship requirements were too punitive and should not be tied to the number of people crossing the US-Mexico border, Graham emphasized that any path to citizenship would “be tied to border security,” and said that the plan would include what he called a “merit-based” approach requiring punitive measures like paying all fines and back taxes before being allowed to apply for legal status.

Graham also spoke about President Obama’s proposed budget, taking a much softer tone than his colleagues in the House. He praised the president for embracing Chained CPI but indicated the plan did not cut enough from Social Security and Medicare.

See video below of our Saturday discussion about immigration and the power of language.