That next conversation shouldn't even include the word "citizenship," say Republicans such as Reed and Collins.
"The issue I think that's somewhat overriding is the issue of citizenship for adults who, when they first came to this country -- which is founded in the rule of law -- broke the law," said Collins, of Clarence.
House Republicans prefer an alternative where undocumented aliens are given a chance at legal status if they work in this country, but without the benefits of full citizenship.
"We're actually recognizing the 11 million immigrants who shouldn't be here but who are, and we are giving them a way to stay permanently," Collins said. "I think that's quite a compromise."
House Republicans would create that new legal status for undocumented aliens in one of several bills they're offering up as they deal with the immigration issue in piecemeal fashion, in contrast to the Senate's comprehensive approach.
"The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said recently. "For any legislation ... it's going to have to be a bill that has the support of a majority of our (Republican) members."
That vow bodes ill for the Senate immigration bill, said Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo.
"It's not going to go anywhere because of what's going on in the House," where several dozen conservatives tend to thwart any attempt at compromise, said Higgins, who supports the immigration bill, saying it would be a boon to the economy.
Nevertheless, Schumer thinks that over time, Boehner will back away from his vow and allow the Senate immigration bill to come up for a vote, where it could pass with the votes of an unusual coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans.
For one thing, three times in the past year, Boehner has broken his vow to not take up legislation unless a majority of House Republicans support it. Each time, the bill passed -- thanks to support from an unusual coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans.
Besides, Schumer said, Boehner will be under huge pressure to pass the Senate immigration bill.
"The national Republican leadership knows that if they don't get a bill done, it's going to hurt them as a party for a generation," given the rapid increase in the Hispanic population, Schumer said.
What's more, traditional GOP allies such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and evangelical groups are backing the bill, as is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
And while it's unusual for a senator to have much influence on a House debate, Schumer is promising to do what he can on the other side of Capitol Hill to make sure the immigration bill becomes law.
"My role is to summon all these forces that we have (in support of the bill) and to guide them so they're used effectively," said Schumer, who is nothing if not confident.
"I believe you will see the House pass the Senate bill this year," he added.
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