Lindsey Graham doesn't sugarcoat his prediction: Republicans are going to get thrashed in the November election, especially among Latinos. And it’s going to trigger another run at immigration reform in Congress next year, the South Carolina senator says.
“I’ll tell you what I’m going to do in 2017,” the plainspoken GOP deal maker said in a recent interview. “I’m going to take the Gang of Eight bill out, dust it off and ask anybody and everybody who wants to work with me to make it better to do so.”
Graham isn't the only one eyeing a revival of the Gang of Eight, the bipartisan group of senators that shepherded a sweeping immigration bill through the Senate three years ago only to watch it stall in the House a year later. Propelled by a Republican establishment eager to make inroads with minority voters after losing them by steep margins in the 2012 election, it was the closest Congress came in a generation to overhauling the nation’s immigration laws,
Several influential lawmakers see another opening for immigration reform in 2017, especially if Hillary Clinton wins and the GOP takes another hit among Latinos. Mitt Romney was hammered for his “self-deportation” rhetoric four years ago. But that pales in comparison to Donald Trump’s vow to remove 11 million immigrants here illegally and calling Mexicans who cross the border illegally “rapists” and “murderers.”
Gang of Eight leader Chuck Schumer is poised to become majority leader if Democrats take the Senate this year. And the New York senator already said immigration reform would be a top priority, most recently in an interview last week. The recent Supreme Court deadlock that left President Barack Obama’s controversial executive actions on hold demonstrated that, for now, major changes to the nation’s immigration policy will have to come from Capitol Hill.