Two Republican Senators have made the first official push for immigration reform since Election Day, confirming what many say has been a change in tone from the GOP on the controversial issue. Our Washington, D.C. bureau reporter Erin Billups has more.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Two retiring republican senators, hoping to re-start the conversation on immigration reform, introduced the Achieve Act Tuesday. It's a bill similar to the DREAM Act, except it creates a pathway to a permanent visa, not citizenship, for undocumented students and service members.
"We have to get this ball rolling. We have to have a discussion that is sensible," said Arizona Senator Jon Kyl.
Democrats call it a change of heart, spurred by the record support they received from Latino voters during the Election.
"I predicted that the Latino vote was going to be strong and that that would cause some reflection on the part of Republicans about their position on immigration reform. I think we’re starting to see that already," President Obama said.
But Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Arizona's Senator Jon Kyl, who have been working on the Achieve Act for about year, insist politics has nothing to do with their push, rather time and common ground are the motivators.
Hutchison said, "These young people are in a situation where they've known really only American life and you say 'go home' and they say 'we are home.' So I believe this is the best start."
There are still major differences to overcome. Republican senators criticize the democrats’ original DREAM ACT proposal, saying it's unfair to others who are currently seeking citizenship through the onerous legal process.
"I think ours is better from the DREAM Act because it doesn't allow them to cut in line in front of people who have come and abided by the rules of our laws today," said Hutchison.
The senators say it's unlikely the bill will go anywhere during this lame duck session. They simply want to tee-up the conversation for others like Florida Senator Marco Rubio and their successors.
Hutchison says she's already briefed Ted Cruz, who will become the Lone Star State's first Latino Senator.
Hutchison said, "I think he will be a major player in this because he's certainly steeped on this issue."