Schumer Sees 'A Million People on the Mall' If GOP Blocks Immigration Bill

June 24, 2013 - 6:02 AM

immigration rally

Immigration rally in Washington, D.C. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) predicted that this will be a "historic" week for the Senate, as it heads toward passage of an immigration "reform" bill.

"Our momentum is growing," he told CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley on Sunday. "So I believe we'll be in the neighborhood of 70 votes by the time the vote occurs at the end of the week."

Senate passage of the bill will put enormous pressure on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio): "[I]f he tries to bottle it up or do things like that, I could see a million people on the Mall in Washington," Schumer predicted.

"There is a real chance that this could die in the House. Would you concede to that?" Crowley asked Schumer.

"Well, no," Schumer reponded. "I think there will be pressure on Boehner to bring a bill similar to the Senate bill. If it's similar to the Senate bill or the Senate bill itself...you'll get most Democrats voting for it, and you will get a good number of Republicans, even if not a majority."

Failure to pass an immigration bill "would consign the Republican Party to minority status," Schumer said.

"You know, Candy, this has the potential of becoming the next major civil rights movement. I could envision in the late summer or early fall, if Boehner tries to bottle the bill up or put something in without a path to citizenship -- if there's no path to citizenship, there's no bill. But if he puts something, if he tries to bottle it up or do things like that, I could see a million people on the Mall in Washington.

"On the platform would not be the usual suspects, but the leaders of business, the leaders of the evangelical movement, the leaders of high tech, as well as most Americans pressuring the House to act.

"I think they're going to have to act whether they have a majority of Republicans or not."

Schumer said he expects to have a "significant number" of Senate Republicans vote with Democrats in favor of the bill. But Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will not be among them.

Appearing on the same program Sunday, Paul said he favors immigration reform, but like most conservatives, "I think reform should be dependent on border security first."

Paul's amendment that placed border security ahead of immigration procedures was defeated. "And so, without some Congressional authority and without border security first, I can't support the final bill."

Paul predicted that the immigration bill will pass the Senate -- "but it's dead on arrival in the House," where border security is a key issue.

Paul's amendment would have required Congress to certify that the border is secure before dealing with the illegal immigrants who are in the country.

"If the people in the country want to be assured that we will not get another 10 million people to come here illegally over the next decade, they have to believe they get a vote through their Congress." Revisiting the border security issue will be "very difficult," Paul added. He said he doesn't trust any administration, Democrat or Republican, to "make a valid judgement" on border security.

"I want Congress and the people to have the right to decide whether the border is secure."

Paul said he is not using border security as an excuse to dodge immigration reform.

"I'm all for immigration reform," he said, adding that he thinks the Senate bill is too limited in the number of farm workers it would allow into the U.S.

"I'm for lessening the caps," Paul said. "Right now there are no caps on agricultural worker visas. This bill is going to put a cap of 110,000. People tell me 300,000 to 400,000 are going to come in every year to pick crops. If you only let 110,000 in legally, that means you're inviting 300,000 to come in illegally every year. This bill doesn't work on the work-visa program, which is part of border security."