U.S. Senate leaders said on the Sunday political talk shows that they are cautiously optimistic that an immigration reform bill could be ready by the time Congress returns next week, after a deal was reached on a guest worker program.
A so-called Gang Of Eight, a bipartisan group of senators, has been working on immigration reform, and there was agreement Sunday that substantial progress has been made.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said there was agreement on a conceptual deal.
Sen. Charles Schumer helped broker the deal on guest workers with labor and business leaders.
Graham said on CNN's "State Of The Union" that the legislation still needs to be drafted, but that should be done within the next week.
"I believe it will pass the House [of Representatives] because it secures our borders, it controls who gets a job," Graham said. "As to the 11 million [undocumented immigrants], they'll have a pathway to citizenship, but it will be earned, it will be long, and it will be hard, and I think it is fair."
"Business and labor have an agreement, and on the future flow, which has been the issue that has undone immigration reform reform in the past. So this is a major, major obstacle that's overcome," Schumer said on NBC's "Meet The Press."
Other lawmakers were more cautious Sunday. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who is also in the "gang of eight," said Sunday he was encouraged by the progress so far, but thought it was premature to say there is a deal.
Schumer said he did not think that any of the "gang of eight" senators expect problems with the bill.
The goal is to unveil a comprehensive reform bill in the Senate when Congress returns on April 8.