Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Media

A Vote Smart Guide to the "Gang of Eight"

28 February 2013

Immigration: it's an issue that's been on the minds of a lot of prominent people involved in politics lately. One group you've probably heard of is the so-called “Gang of Eight” in the Senate – four Democrats and four Republicans who have proposed a new framework for moving forward on comprehensive immigration reform. So what's the deal with this "gang?" You've heard a lot of back-and-forth bickering about their proposals and agenda, but how well do you really know them?


Luckily, here at Project Vote Smart, we've been keeping tabs on these guys for years. Here's a quick rundown of this “Gang of Eight,” including links to some of their key positions, statements, and votes on immigration issues.


Dick Durbin (D-IL)

As the Senior Senator from Illinois and the Senate Majority Whip, Durbin has been a driving force behind the current "gang's” negotiations. He led a press conference a few weeks ago to unveil this framework for a comprehensive immigration reform bill, including strengthening border security, reforming legal immigration, and establishing a pathway to citizenship for those undocumented individuals already in the country. Senator Durbin was also the original sponsor of the DREAM Act, which would have provided a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants brought to this country as minors. You can read a summary of that ultimately unsuccessful legislation here, and you can read what Durbin had to say about it, too. In the aftermath of the bill's failure, the Senator was also supportive of President Obama's decision to halt deportations of individuals who would have been eligible for a path to citizenship through the DREAM Act. Check it out.


At a Glance:

Voting Record

Interest Group Ratings

DREAM Act (2010)


*Yea- Cloture vote

Federation for American Immigration Reform

0%

Immigration Enforcement and Border Fence Amendment (2008)


Nay

National Latino Congreso/William C. Velásquez Institute

100%

Second Immigration Act of 2007


*Yea-cloture vote

English First

0%

Immigration Reform Bill (2006)


Yea

American Immigration Lawyers Association

100%

Lindsay Graham (R-SC)

A member of the Senate since 2002, South Carolina's Senior Senator is no stranger to immigration issues. In 2006, Graham co-sponsored this immigration bill, aimed at beefing up border security and increasing funding and support for U.S. agencies that oversee immigration procedures. In a 2010 Washington Post op-ed co-written with fellow "gang" member Chuck Schumer, Graham outlined his idea for bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform. Read it on our website here. Senator Graham also filled out the Political Courage Test during his run for Congress in 2000, so you can check out his positions on immigration from back then.


At a Glance:

Voting Record

Interest Group Ratings

DREAM Act (2010)

Nay

Federation for American Immigration Reform

100%

Immigration Enforcement and Border Fence Amendment (2008)

Yea

National Latino Congreso/William C. Velásquez Institute

33%

Second Immigration Act of 2007

Yea

English First

100%

Immigration Reform Bill (2006)

Yea

American Immigration Lawyers Association

0%

Michael Bennet (D-CO)

The Junior Senator from Colorado, Bennet was appointed in 2009 after former Senator Ken Salazar was nominated to head up the Department of the Interior. He has been working on immigration issues since his start in the Senate. Just months after being sworn into office in 2009, he gave this speech before the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in which he endorsed a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who are currently in the country illegally. While running for a full Senate term in 2010, he had this to say about President Obama's immigration proposals, which included support for a comprehensive approach to the issue. Just last year, Bennet led an effort to get Colorado leaders to spur a national discussion about immigration reform. He describes the effort of this “Colorado Compact” in this December press release.


At a Glance:

Voting Record

Interest Group Ratings

DREAM Act (2010)

Yea

Federation for American Immigration Reform

7%

Immigration Enforcement and Border Fence Amendment (2008)

Not in Office

National Latino Congreso/William C. Velásquez Institute

100%

Second Immigration Act of 2007

Not in Office

English First

N/A

Immigration Reform Bill (2006)

Not in Office

American Immigration Lawyers Association

80%

Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

Senator Flake is the newest member of the Senate to be included in the "gang," having just won election in 2012. In the past, while serving as the representative for Arizona's 6th district, he has commented on immigration issues, including in this 2011 press release where he criticized the way the Obama administration was implementing immigration policy . When the Supreme Court handed down a ruling overturning much of his state's controversial immigration bill, SB 1070, Flake tried to refocus the discussion on border security with this statement.


At a Glance:

Voting Record

Interest Group Ratings

DREAM Act (2010)

Nay

Federation for American Immigration Reform

100%

Immigration Enforcement and Border Fence Amendment (2008)

Not in Office

National Latino Congreso/William C. Velásquez Institute

33%

Second Immigration Act of 2007

Not in Office

English First

100%

Immigration Reform Bill (2006)

Not in Office

American Immigration Lawyers Association

0%

Bob Menendez (D-NJ)

One of three Hispanic members of the United States Senate, Senator Menendez has made immigration reform one of his key issues since joining the body in 2006. In 2010, he introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate. It did not get past committee, but it did include tougher immigration enforcement both at the border and inside the country and provisions similar to the DREAM Act. You can read a detailed description of the plan here. Until recently, the Senator's website posted this immigration stance, noting the need to address the status of undocumented immigrants already in the country. Plus, as an added bonus, Menendez filled out Vote Smart's Political Courage Test while running for Congress in 1998 (it was then called the “National Political Awareness Test”), so be sure to check that out.


At a Glance:

Voting Record

Interest Group Ratings

DREAM Act (2010)

Yea

Federation for American Immigration Reform

0%

Immigration Enforcement and Border Fence Amendment (2008)

Nay

National Latino Congreso/William C. Velásquez Institute

100%

Second Immigration Act of 2007

Yea

English First

0%

Immigration Reform Bill (2006)

Yea

American Immigration Lawyers Association

100%

John McCain (R-AZ)

As a Senate veteran representing a border state – and a former Republican presidential nominee – John McCain has been at the forefront of Republican immigration policy for years. He was one of the primary sponsors of the McCain-Kennedy comprehensive immigration reform bill, which never came up for a vote in the full Senate. A later bill, a variation on the original framework, did make it to a floor vote but failed. You can read a summary of that legislation on our website. Senator McCain expressed support for the bill on the floor of the Senate then, and voted for it. In 2010, McCain voiced opposition to the DREAM Act and voted against the bill when it came up in the Senate.


At a Glance:

Voting Record

Interest Group Ratings

DREAM Act (2010)

Nay

Federation for American Immigration Reform

100%

Immigration Enforcement and Border Fence Amendment (2008)

Did Not Vote

National Latino Congreso/William C. Velásquez Institute

30%

Second Immigration Act of 2007

Yea

English First

100%

Immigration Reform Bill (2006)

Yea

American Immigration Lawyers Association

0%

Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

The Senior Senator from New York is another high-profile Gang of Eight member. He has lamented the failure of a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2007 and expressed frustration with the lack of progress toward reform in a 2011 Senate floor speech. You can read the Senator's official immigration platform from his Senate website here. It focuses on the need to fix administrative and enforcement procedures within the existing immigration framework. 


At a Glance:

Voting Record

Interest Group Ratings

DREAM Act (2010)

Yea

Federation for American Immigration Reform

7%

Immigration Enforcement and Border Fence Amendment (2008)

Nay

National Latino Congreso/William C. Velásquez Institute

94%

Second Immigration Act of 2007

Yea

English First

0%

Immigration Reform Bill (2006)

Yea

American Immigration Lawyers Association

100%

Marco Rubio (R-FL)

A relative newcomer to national politics, the Junior Senator from Florida has positioned himself recently as a conservative leader on immigration issues. During his 2010 campaign, his website summed up his position on reform this way and claimed that he would have opposed the McCain-Kennedy bill. Once he arrived in the Senate, he threw his support behind a bill strengthening the national employment verification system (“E-Verify”). You can take a look at his reasoning here. Later, in June 2012, his speech on the issue before the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials laid out his overarching philosophy with respect to crafting immigration policy. That same month, he was grilled on NBC's Meet the Press by host David Gregory about his immigration proposals. You can read the full transcript here.


*Marco Rubio was not in office at the time votes were taken on the DREAM Act, Immigration Enforcement and Border Fence Amendment, Second Immigration Act of 2007 or the Immigration reform Bill of 2006. He as also not received any ratings from the interest groups that we used in comparing the other Senators.


Now that you've got a better idea of who's in this high-profile "gang," why not use votesmart.org to take a closer look and get the full story? Remember, there's way more information in our expansive online database. Even though these eight Senators are the talk of the town right now, be sure to read up on your own representatives' records on immigration, too. Just type your address in the search box to find out your representation and then search their profiles for information on the issues that matter to you.


*

Voting Record

Interest Group Ratings

DREAM Act (2010)

 A bill that would have granted "conditional nonimmigrant status" to certain immigrants who meet certain criteria.


Federation for American Immigration Reform

"The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a national, nonprofit, public-interest, membership organization of concerned citizens who share a common belief that our nation's immigration policies must be reformed to serve the national interest."


Immigration Enforcement and Border Fence Amendment (2008)

An amendment that would have allowed the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee to increase spending levels for certain border security and immigration enforcement programs.


National Latino Congreso/William C. Velásquez Institute

"The purpose of [this institute] is to: conduct research aimed at improving the level of political and economic participation in Latino and other underrepresented communities; To provide information to Latino leaders relevant to the needs of their constituents; To inform the Latino leadership and public about the impact of public policies on Latinos; To inform the Latino leadership and public about political opinions and behavior of Latinos."


Second Immigration Act of 2007

A bill that would have established and amended laws related to immigration in the United States, including increased border security. Includes a provision to allow certain undocumented immigrants to remain in the country legally.


English First

"Our goals are simple: Make English America's official language. Give every child the chance to learn English. Eliminate costly and ineffective multilingual policies."


Immigration Reform Bill (2006)

A bill that increased border security and enforcement laws, established criteria for U.S. citizenship, and provided financial assistance programs for areas of immigration.


American Immigration Lawyers Association

"The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members."


*Cloture vote:

Invoking cloture requires a 3/5 majority of the Senate. It is not a vote on the passage of the piece of legislation, but limits further debate to 30 hours. Cloture is typically used to end a filibuster. A failed cloture vote often prevents the legislation from ever coming to a vote.


Related tags: Arizona, blog, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New-Jersey, New-York, senate, South-Carolina

Comments

William M. Wiest says...

Posted on February 28, 2013 @ 8:44 p.m.

Given the obvious D-R divide on The Dream Act, it seems it will be hard for this gang of 8 to make any real progress. I hope I'm wrong.has

Frances C Moore says...

Posted on March 1, 2013 @ 5:29 p.m.

I thought Mike Johanns (R NE) was on the gang of 8.

All fields are required.

Skip to top
Back to top