WASHINGTON — The bipartisan group of senators who last week proclaimed the imminent release of the most sweeping immigration overhaul in decades may have hit some political snags.
Senators and aides have backed off the confident pronouncements that the bill would be introduced this week. They now say they need additional time to iron out disagreements on several major issues, including a path to citizenship and how to handle future low- and high-skilled temporary workers.
"I can't tell you when," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Tuesday. "I can tell you we're getting close. I don't know what date it is, but it'll be soon if everything holds together. If everything holds the way it is today, we're very close."
With labor and business reaching a last-minute agreement on an immigrant temporary-worker program, the so-called "Gang of Eight" senators working on the overhaul returned to Washington this week under intense pressure to introduce their long-awaited immigration overhaul, which would place 11 million people here illegally on a path to citizenship.
Tens of thousands of people from California to North Carolina are expected to gather today on Capitol Hill to express their frustration that no legislation has yet been introduced. "You're going to see how upset we are," said Gustavo Torres, executive director of Casa de Maryland, an immigrant-advocacy group helping organize the rally. "Because they told us that it was first going to be in March. And then they said this week. And nothing is happening."
Today, Republican members of the group are likely to brief others in their caucus on the details of their proposal, according to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.