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Republicans Push Back on Democrats’ Immigration Strategy

Several Senate Republicans on Sunday criticized an emerging Democratic strategy to put immigration on the front burner.

“Our time would be better spent at the federal level on other issues,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on “Fox News Sunday,” adding that lawmakers should focus on creating jobs.

The passage of an immigration law in Arizona last week prompted some Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), to suggest that the issue be addressed before other priorities like climate change and energy.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) said that the Arizona action could lead to a patchwork of inconsistent statewide laws that demand “a national answer.”

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) agreed that the issue requires a nationwide solution, but he said lawmakers must begin by addressing border security. He faulted federal officials for not doing enough to enforce the current laws.

On CNN’s “State of the Union” with Candy Crowley, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said that he wasn’t sure the Senate could take up immigration reform or climate change legislation before the end of the legislative session.

“We have a national problem,” he said, “I hope we can do [immigration reform] in a reasonable and cautious matter…We have a lot of work left on our plate for the rest of the summer.” Chambliss added that he thought it was “not practical” to deal with immigration legislation “until you seal the border.”

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, in contrast, said on CNN that the Senate will deal with both immigration reform and climate change in this session, and that both issues will taken up after Wall Street reform.

On immigration, Menendez slammed the Arizona immigration law signed Friday by Gov. Jan Brewer, saying that the Latino community sees it as the “civil rights issue of their time. When U.S. citizens are taken against their rights,” Menendez said, “it’s fundamentally wrong.”

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