I oppose amnesty, but a pathway to citizenship can take a lot of different forms, she said. It can look like a lot of different things.
Now is the time for a comprehensive package, Hagan said. Shes heard from computer and software companies in North Carolinas Research Triangle Park, in the Raleigh-Durham area, who want to hire highly qualified foreign-born high-tech workers _ often educated in North Carolina schools. Shes visited blueberry and sweet potato farms that need labor.
What I hear from my farmers quite often is that we have got to find a workable solution so they can get the workers they need so they can continue growing crops in North Carolina, she said.
Pryor acknowledged that immigration was a tough issue for some in his state, but he said a bipartisan Senate team that was collaborating on immigration deserved a chance to do its work.
He supported a comprehensive package in 2006 that would have granted legal status to some illegal immigrants, but he opposed a similar measure in 2007 that included a path to citizenship.
Hes introduced bills that would beef up enforcement, including strengthening worker verification. But he said he wanted to see what the bipartisan group drafted before weighing in on whether hed support a path to citizenship.
I dont know what Im comfortable with there, he said.
One of the Democratic leaders of the bipartisan Senate group working on immigration, Charles Schumer of New York, said it was too early to worry about how this bill might affect conservative members of the party in the next election.
Look, were trying to come up with a bipartisan bill, he said. Well worry about counting the votes once we have a bill. We still have a ways to go.
Undoubtedly, if the immigration proposal proceeds, therell be pressure on these conservative Democrats to support it. How much pressure will depend on the election competition theyre expected to face next year, Duffy said.
If theres a strong challenge from the right, Hagan and Pryor may be inclined to vote against a proposal that includes a path to citizenship. But if it looks as if theyll face little or no competition, Democratic leaders make it tougher for them to say no, Duffy said.
Its all about counting noses and who they need, she said.