One day before President Obama kicks off his push for immigration reform in Las Vegas, a bipartisan group of eight senators announced their own deal. In a press conference on Monday, Sens. John McCain (AZ), Lindsey Graham (SC), Marco Rubio (FL), Jeff Flake (AZ), Chuck Schumer (NY), Dick Durbin (IL), Robert Menendez (NJ), and Michael Bennet (CO) will unveil a set of principles that will guide legislation introduced in the Senate.
The principles lay out a “a tough but fair path to citizenship” for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. that will be “contingent upon securing our borders” and “tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required.” DREAMers and seasonal agriculture industry workers would be given a faster path to citizenship, according to the agreement.
A commission of border state governors and other officials will “monitor the progress of security our border” and make a recommendation for when when the bill’s security measures are met. Meanwhile, undocumented immigrants would register with the government and begin the process of background checks and paying a fine and back taxes to earn probationary legal status. But they would not be able to apply for permanent residency — and eventual citizenship — without meeting additional requirements and unless all border enforcement measures have been met. Undocumented immigrants will receive a green card only “after every individual who is already waiting in line for a green card” obtains one.
Yesterday, many of these senators took to Sunday shows to explain the necessity that reform include a road map for legal status.
“We can’t go on forever with 11 million people living in this country in the shadows in an illegal status,” McCain said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We cannot forever have children who were brought here by their parents when they were small children to live in the shadows, as well.”
Citizenship for the nation’s millions of undocumented immigrants also has strong backing from the public. Multiple polls that show a growing majority of Americans support a path to citizenship.
The bipartisan framework also includes provisions that reward green cards to immigrations who have earned Masters or PhDs in “science, technology, engineering, or math from an American university,” a new employment verification system that holds “employers accountable for knowingly hiring undocumented workers,” and would provide businesses “with the ability to hire lower skilled workers in a timely manner when Americans are unavailable or unwilling to fill those jobs.”