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Schumer: 'I worry' about resolving LGBT issues in immigration bill

The top Democratic drafter of immigration legislation was optimistic Thursday that Republicans will support the “good, strong  proposal” to reform the nation’s immigration system.

But Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who joined Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and six other lawmakers to craft the bipartisan bill, also acknowledged that he “worries” about how the group will resolve the question of whether LGBT couples should have the same protections as hetereosexual spouses in the final legislation.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., left, confers with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., as the Senate Judiciary Committee meets on immigration reform on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 9, 2013.

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont has proposed amendments that would incorporate the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) – which would allow the foreign-born partners of gay, lesbian and bisexual U.S. citizens to apply for green card status – into the legislation. Republicans in the bipartisan Gang of Eight have made clear that they cannot support the bill if that measure is included, although it’s not yet clear at what point it might come up for a vote.  

“This one is something, you know, I worry about all the time,” Schumer told reporters on Capitol Hill, saying that the issue keeps him awake at night even though he’s a “good sleeper.”

“Our four Democratic colleagues – including myself – believe that this is not just another issue but an issue of discrimination and so how we resolve this remains to be seen,” he added.

Schumer would not say if he would vote for the amendment if Leahy introduces it.

“I would like very much to see it in the bill,” he said. “But we have to have a bill that has support to get UAFA passed. That's the conundrum. because if there's no bill, there's no UAFA either."

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