The Gang of Eight hopes to have everything voted on by the August recess.
House Republicans look content to let the Senate lead. Rubio has close ties to Miami Republican Reps Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz Balart, who have bucked their own party over immigration and are likely to support the effort. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, a former vice-presidential candidate, said he supported Rubios proposal.
The group of senators includes Republicans Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Arizonas John McCain and Jeff Flake. Democrats include New Yorks Charles Schumer, Michigans Richard Durbin, Colorados Michael Bennett and New Jerseys Bob Menendez.
With bipartisan backing from so many high-profile senators, proposals chances of passage look good. The pressure to do something has also has mounted on both sides.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney barely earned a quarter of the Hispanic vote, which helped cost him the election. Hispanics began shifting away from the GOP in bigger numbers ever since Republicans played a leading role in stopping an immigration reform plan in 2007 backed by McCain, former President Bush and former Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, whose seat Rubio now holds.
Look at the last election, McCain said Sunday on ABCs This Week on Sunday. We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours, for a variety of reasons. And weve got to understand that."
Obama wants to make good on his promise to fix the immigration system. And Menendez on This Week said the speedy timetable shouldnt be too much of an impediment.
"First of all, Americans support it, in poll after poll. Secondly, Latino voters expect it. Thirdly, Democrats want it. And fourth, Republicans need it," Menendez said.
The senators have been meeting since the November elections, but only this month did details emerge as Rubio became a leading voice for the effort. Rubio garnered support by courting conservative media and commentators, most of whom have received it favorably.
The proposal also dovetails with anti-sex trafficking proposals that Rubio backs. He says many sex trafficking victims and witnesses are here unlawfully and are therefore reluctant to cooperate with authorities for fear of deportation.
Its not a good idea to have millions of people permanently trapped in an immigration status that keeps them forever at a distance from our society, Rubio wrote Sunday.