WASHINGTON -- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters on Tuesday that it's a mistake for the president to push for same-sex couples to be included in immigration reform, if he wants Republicans to support the bill.
"Why don't we just put legalized abortion in there and round it all out," Graham said to reporters.
Graham is part of an eight-member group -- four Republicans, four Democrats -- that released a framework on Monday for bipartisan immigration reform. Their framework touches on four main principles, but does not address same-sex couples, who are not given the right to petition for green cards for their partners under the Defense of Marriage Act -- even if they are legally married in their state.
The president will speak about immigration reform later in the day, and will specifically address the need for recognizing same-sex couples as families in immigration law. White House spokesman Jay Carney confirmed the news, first reported by Buzzfeed, that the president would mention his support for such a provision.
"The president believes that it should be included and that should come as no surprise," Carney told reporters. "As we've said all along, this is consistent with the principles he has laid out over the last four years. And the president has long believed that Americans with same-sex partners from other countries should not be faced with the painful choice between staying with the person they love or staying in the country they love."
There is support for such a concept from many Democrats, some of whom have signed on to bills such as the Uniting American Families Act that would specifically address the issue of same-sex couples. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is the sole Republican co-sponsor of that bill in the Senate, and told HuffPost in December that she would support its inclusion in broader immigration reform.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), another member of the "gang of eight," is a co-sponsor of that legislation, but aides say it's too soon to say whether it could be included in a bipartisan immigration bill.
Sen John McCain (R-Ariz.), another member of the group, made the same point.
"We haven't even gotten that far yet," McCain told reporters. "This is thrown out by the people who think we have gotten into the details, which we haven't. We haven't gotten into those kind of details."
Related on HuffPost:
"Gang Of Eight"
A <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/28/immigration-reform-framework_n_2566494.html?1359387491">bipartisan group of senators</a> have come together to address the issue of immigration reform. The group consists of four members of each party -- Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado, plus Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida, John McCain of Arizona and Jeff Flake of Arizona. Their framework was announced Monday.
Pathway To Citizenship
A <a href="http://www.docstoc.com/docs/142894316/Bipartisan-immigration-plan">"tough but fair" </a> road to citizenship is the main tenet of the bipartisan immigrant plan. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is the most significant supporter of this idea, giving hope to those who doubt Republicans will support the plan.
The New Process
The new process of obtaining citizenship would be just that -- a process. Probationary citizens would be required to pass an additional background check, learn English, pay taxes and show that they have a history of employment to apply for permanent residence and a green card. Undocumented immigrants will receive green cards after all probationary citizens have been processed, ensuring that documented immigrants are addressed first. Separate processes would be designed for young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children and agricultural workers.
Enforcement, Then Green Cards
The first goal, before any green cards are handed out, is to "demonstrate our commitment to securing our borders and combating visa overstays," the senators say in their framework.
Enhance Border Security And Drones
Emphasizing enforcement measures, the framework calls for increased boarder control, including more border agents and aerial surveillance and drones. A new system would be added to ensure visa stays are being adhered to, along with a commission of border lawmakers to aid legislation.
Increase Employment Verification
The senators have proposed to create an "effective employment verification system" that would help prevent identity theft while allowing employers to feel secure in hiring documented immigrants.
No Benefits For Probationary Immigrants
Immigrants who are in the probationary category would not be eligible for federal benefits in the senators' framework. This addresses the concern that public benefits, particularly health-related ones, are being spent on undocumented immigrants.
An Easier Path For 'The Best And Brightest'
The framework recognizes that a different sort of process would be needed for "the best and brightest," including highly-skilled workers and those with higher education. This has been previously addressed in the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/stem-act-white-house-immigration_n_2207279.html">STEM Act </a> which was ultimately vetoed by the White House.