Sen. Lindsey Graham’s, R-S.C., presidential campaign suspension was expected, but it is still considered a blow to bipartisan immigration reform advocates.

Among the crowded yet diverse Republican presidential field, Graham has one issue in his political artillery that could have attracted Latino voters, and that is his support for the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill, "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act" (S. 744).

With S. 744, the comprehensive immigration bill garnered bipartisan support from the U.S. Senate, ranging from Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Richard Durbin of Illinois but also Arizona Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain, the latter being the 2008 Republican presidential candidate. S. 744 also had the support of another 2016 Republican presidential candidate: Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

S. 744 provided a pathway to citizenship for immigrants and reforms to the immigrant visa process, in addition to 700 miles of pedestrian fencing on the southern U.S. border and more than 38,000 trained full-time active duty Border Patrol agents on the southern border.

On June 27, 2013, S. 774 passed the U.S. Senate with a considerable margin -- 68 to 32. Graham and Rubio voted in favor of the bill, but fellow Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, senator for Texas, voted against the legislation. While the bill passed the Senate, the House of Representatives never picked up S. 744 for debate or a vote.

Since the bill's failure, Graham has stuck to supporting S. 744 and the hopes to pass comprehensive immigration reform. As Latin Post previously reported, Graham has said that further immigration reform opposition would further divide the Republican Party and Latinos.

He said in June, "If we become the party of self deportation, if that again is our position in 2016, we're going to drive a deeper wedge between us and Hispanics."

"A pathway to citizenship, after you secure the border, control who gets a job, more legal immigration where they have to pass a criminal background check, learn the English language, wait 10 years before you can apply for a green card," said Graham, later adding, "If you solve the immigration problem in a good, American, responsible way, our party's back in the game and we can dominate the 21st century."

Following the announcement of his campaign suspension, Rubio acknowledged he and the South Carolina senator have their political differences but gave him some credit for the presidential campaign.

"Lindsey is someone I know personally. We work together in the Senate. We do not agree on everything on foreign policy, but he is a defender of a strong national defense as I am," said Rubio.

"I watched some of the debates he was in, some of the early debates, and I thought he was one of the most forceful voices on any of the debate stages about rebuilding our military. So we will miss that in the campaign, but I am sure he will continue to do that in his role in the Senate. And I personally, of course, think Lindsey is a good guy, a very funny guy. We will miss his humor on the campaign trail. We look forward to hearing more of it on the Senate floor," Rubio added.

Across the political aisle, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), in their own statement, directly noted Graham role in immigration reform and how it may affect the GOP.

"In its 2012 election autopsy, the Republican Party made a big deal about supporting immigration reform and reaching out to Hispanic voters. Three years later, the one presidential candidate who has consistently favored comprehensive immigration reform just dropped out of the race after attracting virtually no support," said DNC spokesperson Eric Walker.

"At the same time, the party's front-runner has consistently demonized immigrant communities," added Walker, referencing businessman Donald Trump, "while the party's second-place candidate (Cruz) recently challenged the rest of the field to align with his extreme position of opposing legalization or citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Good job, good effort, GOP."

Must Read: Marco Rubio vs. Ted Cruz on Immigration: Latino Senators Clash on 2013 Immigration Reform Bill


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