Republican senator Lindsay Graham has stated that he needs President Obama to step up on immigration reform if he is to have a chance at passing legislation this year.
"The president promised to pass an immigration reform bill in his first year. They've done almost nothing in the White, White House on immigration" he told NBC's 'Meet the Press."
He appeared with Senator Chuck Schumer, the New York Democratic senator, who has co authored a new reform proposal with him.
There are up to 50,000 undocumented Irish in the U.S. and immigration reform is a major issue in the community.
Graham sent a clear signal that he believes there are at least 16 moderate Democratic senators who will not pass immigration reform unless Obama becomes personally invested in it. The chances of another Republican coming over depend on the president too says graham
Graham admitted he had taken heavy flak from Republican grassroots on his support for immigration reform and stated that without Obama taking leadership role the bill was dead.
Graham said " immigration's tough. You don't have to ask anybody other than me to tell you that. It is a tough heavy lift. I urge the president to write a bill and see if he can get another Republican, see if he can convince the 16 Democrats who voted no last time. Let him do some heavy lifting here on immigration."
Obama and Senator Chuck Schumer say they need a second Republican senator before they work on the joint approach that Schumer and Graham put forward recently. Graham says Obama has to step up first.
The key both senators believe is a new biometric card that would disallow all undocumented to work, while allowing for those here undocumented at present to get a path to legality.
Graham however is insisting that Obama lead the charge as he did on healthcare if the legislation has any chance to pass.
Many pundits believe it will be impossible in the current economic climate to get immigration reform. Schumer however believes the momentum for reform is still there.
"Let's look at how desperately we need it. Fifteen thousand people cross our border illegally every day. Most of them take jobs from Americans," he said. "And yet at the same time there are certain people we need in this economy to help us grow and we can't get them: engineers, doctors, farm workers."