Graham, McCain flirting with immigration reform support

Liz Goodwin

Two Republican senators who took a hard right turn against immigration reform last spring are signaling they may be prepared to revisit comprehensive immigration reform in the new Congress.

Of course, the GOP-controlled House would most likely never pass an immigration bill erecting a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants. But GOP Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina are nonetheless hinting that the Senate may attempt reform anyway.

Graham told Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown he is again in talks with New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, though he said their plans are in the "infant stage." McCain said yesterday on CNN he would consider immigration reform once the border is secure. (A deadline that translates, in all likelihood, to Congress first passing the "10-point" border security bill that he and his home-state GOP senate colleague John Kyl have put forward to send 3,000 troops to the border). Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, said in an interview that McCain, once a champion of reform, told him "that there's a shot at this."

Southern Baptist Convention leader Rev. Richard Land, a conservative supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, says the move would be more effective if led by new faces. He suggested newly elected GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Rubio's spokesman Alex Burgos tells The Lookout that the senator "doesn't belieeve that amnesty is the correct solution to this challenge," and would vote against comprehensive immigration reform.

(McCain and Graham in 2008: AP)