[ View the story "Immigration deal: What's in the Senate proposal?" on Storify] Immigration deal: What's in the Senate proposal?
Digital First Media· Mon, Jan 28 2013 06:06:50
A bipartisan group of eight senators will reveal the broad outlines of a proposal to reform U.S. immigration laws today. Articles posted on
New York Times
this morning detailed the proposal.
Here's what we know so far:
It would create a pathway to citizenship
Araceli Cortes, an undocumented immigrant, is shown at her home in California in 2012. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
The deal includes a pathway to citizenship for the nation's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. Long opposed as "amnesty" by conservatives, this is considered the hardest but most important part of any comprehensive package.
But it would not be easy.
Undocumented immigrants would be required to undergo multiple background checks, pay a fine and back taxes, learn English and pass a civics test in order to become legal residents. Anyone with a serious criminal record would be deported.
Before they are approved, immigrants would be on a "probationary legal status" that would allow them to live and work in the United States but not qualify for federal benefits.
But first, it calls for stricter border enforcement
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
The pathway to citizenship would not take effect until border security has been beefed up. That would include more drones and border guards and a supervisory commission made up of governors, community leaders and law enforcement officials from the Southwest.
The proposal also calls for an electronic verification system to allow employers to check if they are hiring undocumented immigrants.
Another section of the proposal also calls for better tracking of people in the United States on visas through an exit system at airports and seaports.
It includes parts of the DREAM Act
Undocumented immigrant Layios Roberto waits outside a legal group's offices in Los Angeles in 2012. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
The proposal would also incorporate parts of the DREAM Act, a long-stalled measure to allow people brought to the U.S. illegally as children to become citizens.
Last year, the Obama administration decided to
allow tens of thousands of people
in that situation to defer deportation. This proposal would presumably build off that effort.
And it would overhaul legal immigration
An unidentified man takes the oath of citizenship during a naturalization ceremony in 2011. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
The proposal would overhaul the existing legal immigration system to allow more highly skilled workers in so-called STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math, in part by giving green cards to immigrants tho obtain advanced degrees in those fields from American universities.
Supporters of an overhaul include many in the business community in areas like Silicon Valley and
standalone bills have been successful before
. These measures are considered vital to help sell other parts of a comprehensive reform bill to skeptics in Congress.
The bill would also allow more low-skill workers into the country, creating a new program for seasonal agricultural workers.
Elements of the proposal poll well
(AP Photo/Ryan J. Foley)
, 70 percent of Americans supported the DREAM Act provisions and 62 percent supported a pathway to citizenship. Groups lobbying for STEM immigration claim to
have broad support
It also has bipartisan support in the Senate
The proposal was crafted by a group of eight senators from both parties which includes former Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona and high-ranking Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York. Other members: Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah and Jeff Flake of Arizona.
A civil rights group opposes the employment verification.
The American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement that the framework agreed on by the senators could provide important protections for illegal immigrants who are exploited by employers and live in "constant fear" over their immigration status.
But the ACLU took issue with the proposal to require employers to use an electronic employment-verification system, calling it "a thinly disguised national ID requirement" that would undermine employees' privacy and lead to discrimination against those "who look or sound 'foreign.'"
The Associated Press contributed to this report.