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Immigration bill backers confident

| Thursday, April 18, 2013, 10:03 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The eight senators who authored the new bipartisan immigration reform bill said on Thursday that they are confident their efforts will not collapse in the way a bipartisan gun control bill did this week.

Immigration reform has much wider support among both Democrats and Republicans, said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Schumer is one of the “Gang of Eight” senators who released their bill this week.

The other senators — who met 24 times over three months to craft their sweeping 800-plus-page bill — are Republican Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida and Democratic Sens. Mark Bennet of Colorado, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Bob Menendez of New Jersey.

“I think the majority of people in both caucuses really want to get this done,” Schumer said. “I think this is ours to lose.”

McCain said the most compelling reason for the senators' confidence is the unprecedented coalition of diverse interest groups that have come together around the legislation.

Among them: labor unions and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, farmers and farm workers, Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants, and immigrant rights advocates and conservatives such as Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. A bipartisan coalition of more than 30 state attorneys general also is calling on congressional leaders to pass reform.

“I never thought I'd be standing next to Richard Trumka,” said McCain, chuckling as he turned to acknowledge the AFL-CIO president. “This is why we'll succeed.”

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