A bipartisan group of Senators announced a framework to overhaul the country’s immigration system, decades in the making, that includes a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented in the country.
The principal authors of this immigration reform effort are Senators Michael Bennet (D–CO), Dick Durbin (D–IL), Jeff Flake (R–AZ), Lindsey Graham (R–SC), John McCain (R–AZ), Robert Menendez (D–NJ), Marco Rubio (R–FL), and Charles Schumer (D–NY). The initiative includes an overhaul of the immigration system, stronger employment verification, a guest-worker program and creating a path to citizenship for the undocumented already living in this country.
The bipartisan group did not label the path to citizenship as amnesty, something that many conservatives oppose, but rather a “tough but fair path to citizenship.” A background check would be required and back taxes would also have to be paid to be considered for citizenship.
Qualified immigrants would be granted temporary legal status and receive green cards only after every lawful green-card applicant has gone through the naturalization process.
A key element of the four-point plan calls for a more secure border and eliminating incentives for more undocumented immigrants to enter the country. The guest worker program will allow U.S. businesses to hire immigrants if they can prove U.S. citizens are not interested in the work. The proposed plan would also expand the number of visas issued for high-skilled workers.
There have been numerous efforts to pass immigration reform in the past but many credit the fact that 12 million Latinos turned out to vote in the November 2012 elections as the motivating force behind this push. Many polls indicated that Latino voters favored overhauling the immigration system and allowing the undocumented to be given a path to citizenship, a stance supported by President Obama. The President won an overwhelming percentage of the Latino vote.
The House of Representatives nor the White House has officially reacted to the proposed set of principles that are designed to guide legislation on comprehensive immigration reform.