Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., spoke out against proposed immigration legislation in the Senate on ABC News' "This Week With George Stephanopoulos."
"I would hope that the family values crowd put their votes where their values are," Menendez told Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, also on the show, arguing that the bipartisan bill will divide immigrant families.
Gutierrez fired back against the bill's opponents, citing the measure's comprehensive approach to immigration reform.
"I would hate, because some people have tweaks and some minor points on the edgesm that the whole compromise comes crashing down. We have a historic, one-time, the best shot we will have to fix this system," he said. "I hate to lose it because it people have some issues."
Menendez has put forth proposed amendments to the bill over the past week, including one with Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., on legal, permanent residents and another with Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., on immigrant parents.
On "This Week," Menendez said the bill "undermines the very core of family reunification, and in my mind, in the long term, it tears families apart."
On another aspect of the legislation, the proposed temporary guest worker program, Gutierrez said, "unless we have a legal system by which we can bring in temporary workers, then we're leaving a void that can be filled by illegals, and that's exactly what we're trying to avoid."
Menendez argued that such a system creates a permanent underclass and "exacerbates the very essence of what we're trying to resolve."
Despite their differences, the secretary and senator agreed that immigrant workers make important contributions to the American economy.
"Our economy needs them. That is the bottom line," Gutierrez said.