Ariz. senators visit border

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- A group of U.S. senators, including Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, toured the Arizona/Mexico border Wednesday.

The two Republican Arizonans played host to Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, both of whom are Democrats. The reason? To get a firsthand look at issues affecting the region.

The group is half of the so-called "Gang of Eight" working on a bi-partisan immigration reform package. One of the top priorities in the potential measure is border security. 

"I wish every member of the United States Senate and Congress could see the border," McCain said the other day. "Only when you can see the expanse, the difficulties and the challenges of the border, can you really appreciate the need for our border security."

Other top priorities of immigration reform include:

* a 13-year path to citizenship for an estimated 12-15 million undocumented immigrants already in the United States illegally

* protection for so-called "Dreamers"

* allow more high- and low-skilled workers to come to the U.S.

* hold businesses to tougher standards on verifying their workers are in the country legally.

Initially it was believed Congress would present a package by March but that timeline has now been pushed back to April.

During a town hall meeting on Monday, McCain tried to lower expectations for the bill by telling immigration activists they wouldn't be completely happy with the measure and warned that the group must overcome difficult disagreements.

The four senators planned to hold a news conference after their visit.