After wrapping a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border Wednesday, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said the bipartisan group crafting an immigration reform bill was "very close" to finishing the legislation. A draft, he noted, should be ready to be introduced when the Senate reconvenes after Easter.
"The bottom line is, we're very close. I'd say we're 90 percent there. We have a few little problems to work on," Schumer told reporters in Arizona after a tour of the U.S. border enforcement facilities. "We're on track to meet our deadline of having a bill when we get back to Congress in April."
Schumer and McCain are part of the team of eight senators tasked with crafting an immigration bill that can pass both chambers of Congress. The group unveiled a blueprint of its plan in January. They called it a "tough but fair" approach to solving the nation's illegal immigration problem.
In a joint press conference Wednesday, Schumer and McCain reiterated that the bill would need to be "comprehensive" to survive, and would address new ways to secure the border, penalize businesses that hire illegal immigrants and provide a "path to citizenship" for illegal immigrants already in the country. On border security, Schumer said that the federal government doesn't necessarily need more boots on the ground along the border, but it will need to invest in new technology.
"We have adequate manpower but not adequate technology," Schumer said. "You can't do it with just one fence or with people lined up."
McCain emphasized that lawmakers would be required to make sacrifices to pass the bill, but that he and Schumer planned to use what they learned during their border visit to lobby their colleagues to support the plan.
"Nobody is going to be totally happy with this legislation," McCain said. "No one will be because we are having to make compromises, and that's what makes good legislation."