Schumer: Immigration plan ‘is not amnesty in any sense of the word’

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On "Morning Joe" today, Sens. Chuck Schumer and John McCain, the "odd couple" behind an emerging bipartisan bill on immigration reform, talked about how they'll sell the legislation to skeptical Republicans and to the White House.

The first objective: banish "amnesty" from the conversation.

"We do provide a path to citizenship but it's not a path to citizenship that's easy," Schumer said. "You have to work, you have to pay taxes, you're going to pay a fine, there will be some admission of wrongdoing. So it's not amnesty in any sense of the word."

A New York Times story this morning reported the opposition in one South Carolina diner as evidence of the mood some Republicans might face when they go home to their constituents.

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Steve Rattner, a guest-panelist on the show, asked McCain if the plan could be sold to constituents like his, in Arizona.

"We have got to show my constituents and our Republicans, as Chuck just said, this is not amnesty," said McCain. "This is a tough road to citizenship but we have got to give them the opportunity to do so." 

McCain also noted there "might be resistance on Chuck's side of the aisle," from some liberal groups who feel the plan isn't permissive enough.

Schumer reportedly told Lindsey Graham that his "heart skipped a beat" when he heard McCain was interested in working together on the issue; the group also recruited Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who had been working on his own separate plan.

President Obama is set to give a speech today which will embrace some of the senators' principles.

"The president was extremely supportive," said Schumer, who spoke to him on Sunday, and added, "he put out a very nice statement yesterday."

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