Today U.S. Senators announced a new proposal on immigration reform set to affect nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants current in the U.S. The new proposal was a bipartisan effort endorsed by Democrats Charles Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado; and Republicans John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida and Jeff Flake of Arizona.
The immigration reform proposal is aimed at accomplishing four main goals, including:
- Creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here, contingent upon securing the border and better tracking of people in the U.S. on visas;
- Reforming the legal immigration system, including awarding green cards to immigrants who obtain advanced degrees in science, math, technology or engineering from an American university;
- Creating an effective employment verification system to ensure that employers do not hire undocumented immigrants;
- Allowing more low-skill workers into the country and allowing employers to hire immigrants if they can demonstrate they couldn’t recruit a U.S. citizen; and establishing an agricultural worker program.
Republican supporters, including Senator Rubio, have called for the completion of steps on border security and oversight of those currently in the U.S. on visas before taking major steps forward on a process for a path to citizenship. The proposal path to citizenship would allow those undocumented immigrants in the U.S. the ability to qualify for a probationary legal status that would allow those immigrants to live and work in the U.S., but not qualify for federal benefits before they have qualified for permanent residency.
The Senate also envisions the new proposal to include a more streamlined process toward citizenship for immigration brought to the U.S. as children by their parents, and for agricultural workers.
The Senate proposal is the most significant effort in years toward revamping the U.S.’s inefficient patchwork of immigration laws.
In the November elections the Republicans were defeated by Democrats who were believed to have won in large part due to the Latino vote. Latino voters voted for President Obama, a democrat, 71 percent to 27 percent for Mitt Romney, a republican. Thus, some Republican leaders have concluded that supporting immigration reform with a path to citizenship is a political imperative.