US Senators unveil immigration reform plan

[JURIST] A group of eight senators from both parties released a framework [text, PDF] Monday of comprehensive immigration [JURIST backgrounder] reform legislation that they plan to introduce by March. The framework focuses on four "pillars" that the legislation will include: creating a path to citizenship for current unauthorized immigrants, contingent upon securing the borders; reforming the immigration system to ease the way for immigrants who will bolster the US economy or are a part of an existing US family and have been waiting for citizenship; creating a new employment verification system to check immigration status; and allowing immigrants to legally imigrate to the US for low-skilled labor, only if it is available and American workers have refused the work. Senators Chuck Schumer, John McCain, Dick Durbin, Robert Menendez and Marco Rubio [official websites] revealed the outline in a press conference.


White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stated in his press briefing [transcript] Monday that "[T]he President welcomes the efforts by the bipartisan group in the Senate to put forward principles on the need for comprehensive immigration reform—principles that mirror the President's blueprint." President Barack Obama is expected to make a statement on immigration reform on Tuesday.

The individual senators involved in building the framework released several statements on what the eventual legislation will include. McCain focused on border security [press release], "Greater focus needs to be paid to drug traffickers and criminals that cross the border. ... To combat this, we need to continue to invest in UAVs, radar, and other proven surveillance systems that will give Border Patrol the ability to detect and apprehend all illegal entries into the United States." He also compared the framework to failed legislation [FAQ text] that was put forward in 2007, and issued more details about the plan, including that funding for some aspects of the program will come from "fees collected from immigrant workers—both new guest workers and the previously undocumented." These funds will be used for "registering the undocumented, processing visas and other applications, enhancing enforcement and providing English and civics education to immigrants." Senator Lindsey Graham [official website], who was not available for the press conference, also released a statement [press release] and said, "We're a long way from having legislative language but I do believe 2013 presents us the best chance to pass immigration reform in many years."

 

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