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Menendez: Bipartisan Bill ‘Fixes Our Broken Immigration System’

Senator Adds Measure 'Preserves American Dream'
Sen. Robert Menendez (file / credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Sen. Robert Menendez (file/credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The bipartisan immigration reform bill hammered out by the so-called Gang of Eight U.S. Senators has been formally unveiled.

The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act was negotiated by four Democrats and four Republicans, including Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

Menendez told WCBS 880’s Steve Scott on Thursday that he is pleased with the full bill.

“It is one that will secure our borders, that will promote our economic growth and at the same time, preserve the American Dream and our history as a nation of immigrants,” Menendez told Scott.

The AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have signed on to the plan, along with many religious groups and pro-immigrant rights groups, Menendez noted.

“I think it finally fixes our broken immigration system once and for all,” Menendez said. “It solves a tough problem.”

But in the true spirit of compromise, there are some aspects of the bill that Menendez could have done without.

“Truly, I believe we have more border security than at any other time in the nation’s history,” Menendez told Scott. “But, as part of the agreement, particularly some of our colleagues in the negotiation who come from border state feel more needs to be done so we will spend several more billion dollars in this process. All that money raised through the fines and fees that exist in the bill.”

“That is one thing that I think we don’t need to the extent that is being pursued in the bill but I’m willing to accept it as part of a pathway to achieve immigration reform,” Menendez added.

LINK: Read The Full Bill (pdf)

New Jersey’s junior senator noted there are some aspects of the bill championed by Democrats that the Republican members of the group agreed to include.

“All in all, I think that this is a bill that meets our overall goals and one that I can support,” the senator told Scott.

Menendez said the Gang of Eight was able to work together on a compromise measure almost from the start. He said there were some tough moments during the four-month negotiations but said the end result is “a true compromise.”

“It is in that compromise that I believe it has the broad base of support that can get us 60 votes in the Senate to beat back some of the voices who will say no to any reform,” Menendez said.

The senator said while those 60 votes are not a done deal, he said he is confident the Gang of Eight will be able to garner enough support to get the reform measure approved.

The other members of the Gang of Eight are Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

Schumer formally filed the bill on the Senate floor around 2 a.m. Wednesday but it’s not expected to be introduced for a couple of days.

There are an estimated 11 million people currently in the U.S. illegally.

What do you think of the bipartisan plan? Sound off in the comments section below…