Senate Immigration Proposal to Include Pathway to Citizenship

(ABC News)

Two senators at the center of negotiations over comprehensive immigration reform, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said on Sunday that a pathway to citizenship is an essential component of a comprehensive reform bill.

"That has to be also part of it," McCain told ABC News' Martha Raddatz on "This Week" when asked whether a pathway to citizenship would be a component of reform. "There's a new appreciation on both sides of the aisle including, maybe more importantly on the Republican side of the aisle, that we have to enact comprehensive immigration reform."

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McCain said that a small group of Senators will release the principles of a comprehensive, not "piecemeal," reform bill this week.

"I'm very pleased with the progress," McCain said. "It's not that much different from what we tried to do in 2007."

Read a full transcript of the interview with Sens. McCain and Menendez HERE.

Menendez, who met with President Obama on Friday along with other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus leadership, said that the president expressed his full commitment to reform.

"The president made it very clear in that discussion that this was a top legislative priority for him in this session of the Congress and that he expects to work with all of us in an effort to achieve that goal and he's fully committed to it."

He added that a pathway to "earned legalization" is an "essential element" of an immigration reform bill.

"First, Americans support it in poll after poll. Secondly, Latino voters expect it. Thirdly Democrats want it. And fourth Republicans need it," Menendez said.

McCain added that he believes Obama's use of the presidential podium on behalf of immigration reform at an event in Las Vegas planned for Tuesday will aid efforts to pass a bill.

"I think it helps," McCain said. "I think its important that we all work together on this."

"Believe it or not, I see a glimmer of bipartisanship out there," he added.