One day before President Barack Obama was scheduled to unveil his immigration reform proposals, Sen. Charles Schumer joined a bipartisan group of U.S. senators Monday to propose their own plan to overhaul immigration laws, including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Eight Democratic and Republican senators, including Schumer, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and John McCain of Arizona, were optimistic as they told reporters in Washington, D.C. that they can work together to pass immigration reform this year.
Through the Democrats' effort, the proposal includes a "tough but fair" pathway to citizenship for the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Republicans demanded the agreement include stronger border enforcement.
Legal immigration would be reformed, and an employment verification system aimed at stopping the hiring of undocumented immigrants would be implemented and guidelines would be set for the flow of guest workers.
Lawmakers tried and failed in 2007 and 2010 to reform immigration. This attempt could be different, in large part because Republicans need to improve their standing among Hispanic voters.
In last year's presidential election, President Barack Obama received 71 percent of the Hispanic vote and Mitt Romney got just 27 percent.
Both sides of the aisle emphasized on Monday the importance of completing immigration reform.
"We believe that this will be the year that Congress finally gets it done," Schumer said. "The politics on this issue have been turned upside down. For the first time ever there is more political risk in opposing reform than supporting."
Schumer said he hopes the bill will pass the Senate by late spring.
"None of this is possible unless we address the reality that there are 11 million people human beings who are here undocumented," said Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican. "That's not something that anyone is happy about, that's not something anyone wanted to see happen, but it is what has happened."
Rubio's tone represents a major shift for the Republican Party, which who have long opposed any type of path to citizenship.
More conservative Republican members of the House of Representatives, however, released statements in which they characterize citizenship as amnesty.
Obama is scheduled to unveil his own plan during a trip to Nevada on Tuesday.