Home » Bipartisan Group of Senators Outlines Plans for Immigration Reform
A bipartisan group of eight senators led by Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) has outlined a guiding set of principles for a comprehensive immigration reform legislative package that they hope to pass some time this spring.
Noting that lawmakers have unsuccessfully tried to pass comprehensive immigration reform in the past, Sen. Schumer, speaking to reporters on Jan. 28, said, “We believe that this is the year Congress finally gets it done.”
The framework would give a “tough but fair path to citizenship” for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States, Schumer said, that is contingent on securing the nation’s borders.
Unauthorized immigrants living in the United States already would be required to register with the government, pay a fine and back taxes, and get a criminal background check before being put on probationary legal status, which will allow them to live and work legally in the United States.
It would also create a mandatory employment verification system and impose stiff fines and criminal penalties on employers that knowingly hire undocumented workers. But it would also allow employers to hire immigrants that have achieved probationary legal status for positions they could not fill with American citizens.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which in the past has opposed comprehensive immigration reform efforts, issued a statement in strong support of the framework. “We know that many details need to be worked out, but we are very encouraged by this framework for reform and look forward to helping advance comprehensive immigration reform and build public support,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue.
A key sticking point for many employers during previous reform efforts has been the E-Verify employer verification system, which many employers said was unworkable and burdensome. According to the Chamber’s website, many of the problematic aspects of E-Verify have been improved. “We now support a uniform national policy expanding the use of E-Verify,” the Chamber says.
The lawmakers acknowledged that they face an uphill battle. McCain told reporters, “We’re not going to get everybody on board,” although he added that “I am confident that we’ll be successful.”
Schumer said he hoped that legislation could be drafted by March, with a vote in the Senate in late spring or early summer. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said he supports a comprehensive reform effort and would likely support moving a bill in the House, McCain said.
Schumer said that the political landscape has changed, and polls now show that the majority of Americans support comprehensive reform as opposed to simply securing the nation’s borders against illegal immigrants. “There is more political risk in opposing immigration reform than supporting it,” he said.
The lawmakers who crafted the outline were: Schumer and McCain, along with Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
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