{{show_title_date || "Sen. McCain: This is not amnesty; It's a tough road to citizenship, 1/28/13, 7:00 PM ET"}}

McCain: GOP can’t win without immigration reform

Updated

Sen. John McCain and Sen. Chuck Schumer joined the Morning Joe crew from the Russel Rotunda Tuesday morning, praising the immigration deal, its bipartisan roots, and their optimism for the deal.

McCain, who championed the immigration reform bills of 2007 before it was scuttled by conservative voters and lobbyists, said this time will be different.

“I think one of the big factors is the polarization of the Hispanic vote and the realization amongst Republicans that when a Democratic candidate gets 71% of the vote, you can do the math and see the [party’s] descent towards irrelevancy or failure to win an election,” he said, adding that there’s also the “realization of the American people that we can’t have 11 million people living in the shadows.”

Responding to the critics, Schumer and McCain reaffirmed that the deal is far from amnesty.

“We do provide a path to citizenship, but it’s not a path to citizenship that’s easy. You have to work, you have to pay taxes, there’s going to be a fine, you have to admit wrongdoing,” Schumer said. “It’s not amnesty in any sense of the word.”

They’re already appealing to politicians in the more-conservative House, where anti-immigration groups like Numbers USA have their strongest hold. The proposed legislation includes strong border control that will be implemented at the start, deterrents to entering the country illegally or being undocumented, they said, and they hope these measures will help sway Conservatives.

“We will and already are reaching across the capital,” McCain said. “I think Republicans realize the realities of the 21st century and there will be some difficulties and it’s a long hard path but I’m confident, frankly, in the long path that we’ll succeed.”

McCain: GOP can’t win without immigration reform

Updated