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Chuck Schumer: Immigration Reform Would Have Passed 'In A Pre-Tea Party World'

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Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who helped draft a comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate and stalled in the House last year, said Thursday that some conservatives who oppose reform just aren't comfortable with the changing demographics of the United States.

"[It] explains why so many on the right vehemently opposed the Senate immigration bill, a bill that actually embodies many conservative, non-governmental principals: reducing our deficit by billions, growing our economy, creating jobs and spurring new entrepreneurial activity," Schumer said in a speech at the Center for American Progress, according to Talking Points Memo.

"In a pre-tea party world, the Senate immigration bill would have been welcomed by House Republicans," he continued. "However, the tea party rank and file know it's a different America. It looks different; it prays different; it works different. This is unsettling and angering to some."

Republicans in the so-called "gang of eight," which crafted the bill, have argued that demographic changes are a clear reason to support comprehensive immigration reform. For one thing, they have said immigration reform could help the GOP's image with Latinos, a growing segment of the electorate that rates immigration reform as a higher priority than the population as a whole does. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a member of the gang of eight, said in June that the GOP was "in a demographic death spiral as a party" with its weak support from Latino voters, and that immigration reform could help.

The gang of eight bill passed the Senate in a 68 to 32 vote -- including 14 Republicans -- in June, but it hasn't gone anywhere in the GOP-controlled House. Instead, House Republican leaders have said they will pursue their own version of reform, to be laid out in principles the conference is currently drafting.

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