White House, senators strike immigration reform deal

[JURIST] Key US senators from both political parties and White House cabinet officers reached a tentative agreement on immigration reform [JURIST news archive] on Thursday, after weeks of negotiations. The proposal, which President Bush calls "secure, productive, orderly, and fair" [statement], gives more weight to an immigrant's education level than his family connections in the US when awarding green cards. Additionally, illegal immigrants would be able to obtain a probationary card allowing them to live and work legally in the United Sates, but which would not place them on the road to permanent residency or citizenship. Once border security is improved and the high-tech worker identification program is implemented, however, such card-holders would be able to seek permanent residency status. Illegal immigrants would have to pay a $5000 fine plus fees in order to obtain a "Z visa," placing them on an eight- to thirteen-year track toward permanent immigrant status.

A temporary guest worker program would also be implemented once the borders are declared secure, and the worker identification program is enacted. Finally, up to 1.5 million migrant farm-workers could obtain legal status through an "AgJobs" measure [bill materials], supported by Senator Diana Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) [official websites]. AgJobs would be a five year pilot program that would grant legal status to those would have worked in US farms for at least 150 days in the last two years. AP has more. AP also has additional coverage of the AgJobs program.

 

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