Schumer: '90%' done with immigration bill

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NOGALES, Ariz. -- Sen. Charles Schumer said a bipartisan Senate group is "90 percent" done with its draft of legislation to overhaul U.S. immigration law.

"Bottom line is, we are very close," Schumer, the New York Democrat who is part of a so-called Gang of Eight working on the proposal, said Wednesday after a tour of the border with Mexico. "I'd say we're 90 percent there. We have a few little problems to work on."

Schumer said the tour, which he took with Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake and Colorado Democrat Michael Bennet, deepened his understanding of the challenges in securing the U.S. border.

Republicans say a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the United States must be contingent on improving border security.

"Whatever your views are on immigration, Arizona is ground zero," Schumer said, noting that McCain and Flake had been pushing hard in the talks for technological improvements at the border.

The trip convinced him, Schumer said, that federal agents "have adequate manpower but not adequate technology" at the border.

Earlier, McCain tweeted that the group had seen a woman "a few yards away" climbing an 18-foot security fence to enter the United States.

"Most of the people who jump over the fence are doing it because they want a better life, and I understand that," McCain said, adding that the group wants to provide better legal options for such people.

Schumer said the eight were "on track" to unveil their proposal, which is based on principles released in late January, the week of April 8.

A public feud erupted Friday between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO over a low-skilled worker provision in the bill. But Flake noted yesterday that negotiations over that program had resumed, and an AFL-CIO negotiator confirmed the talks were back on.

President Barack Obama said Wednesday in back-to-back interviews with the Spanish-language networks Telemundo and Univision that last-minute obstacles for the bill are resolvable, and he is confident it will be ready by the end of summer.With AP

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