WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) predicted in an interview with ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that Congress will pass comprehensive immigration reform, despite opposition in the Republican-led House.
"It's certainly gonna pass the Senate," Reid told host George Stephanopoulos of immigration reform. "And it would be a bad day for our country and a bad day for the Republican Party if they continue standing in the way of this. So the answer is yes."
Reid previously said immigration reform is at the top of his priority list for the year, along with gun legislation. He lent his support last week to a bipartisan immigration framework announced by the "gang of eight" -- four Republican senators, four Democratic senators -- which would give a pathway to citizenship to undocumented immigrants after certain border security provisions are met and would streamline the legal immigration system.
He told Stephanopoulos that he expects the conversations to become much more difficult as lawmakers draft actual legislation, but that he is optimistic, alluding to the concern from many Republicans that they are alienating Latino voters by opposing immigration reform.
"I think things are looking really good," Reid said. "They're good-looking for a number of reasons. One, it's the right thing to do. And number two, the Republicans can no longer stop this. They've tried it. It hasn't worked. Look what they tried to do to me a couple years ago. Look what they tried to do with the president just this last time. And it just didn't work."
One of the major questions about the gang-of-eight framework is how it would define border security. Undocumented immigrants already living in the United States would be immediately eligible for legal provisional status, but could not receive green cards until certain security enforcement metrics had been met.
Reid said those metrics are yet to be determined, dismissing a question about the call for broadly defined "operational control" of the borders from gang-of-eight member Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
"I don't know what that means and I don't think he does, either," Reid said. "The fact is we have some metrics we're talking about, some numbers, and we can do that. But this legislation is going to pass."
The Senate majority leader also said that some Republicans may try to pin their lack of support on other issues, such as whether same-sex couples should receive equal treatment under immigration law, but that in the end they should support reform.
"If they're looking for an excuse not to support this legislation, this is another one," Reid said. "But the American people are past excuses. They want this legislation passed."
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.