WASHINGTON - Senator Michael Bennet from Colorado was one of a group of eight U.S. Senators who unveiled what is being called a "bipartisan blueprint" on immigration reform.
The proposals introduced Monday aim to secure the border, allow more guest workers, require tougher verification measures by employers and create a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country.
They expressed optimism they can succeed where numerous past efforts have failed. Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said November's election losses show Republicans they need to take steps to win over Latino voters.
"I think we need to be honest with ourselves about how important immigration is for our economy, for agriculture, for guest workers and other laborers - and for those that are already here now that are making contributions toward our future," said Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida.
"The politics on this issue have been turned upside down. For the first time ever there is more political risk in opposing immigration reform than in supporting it," said Senator Charles Schumer a Democrat from New York.
But the senators quickly encountered a cool reaction from other lawmakers, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who said immigration legislation is too important to be written in a back room.