Immigration Legislation Readdressed By Senate
Earlier this week, senators from both sides pledged to push through what was considered "far-reaching immigration legislation" by summer. Doing so would open up potential citizenship for an estimated 11 million people that are currently in the U.S. illegally.
According to Associated Press reporting, the senators acknowledged pitfalls that have doomed such efforts in the past, but they suggested that November's elections with Hispanics voting heavily for President Barack Obama and other Democrats could make this time different. That said, some worry that the legislation could be slowed once it reaches the House.
Besides the citizenship provision, including new qualifications, the Senate measure would increase border security, allow more temporary workers to stay and crack down on employers who would hire illegal immigrants. The plans are still short on detail, and all the senators conceded that months of tedious and politically treacherous negotiations lie ahead.
But with a re-elected Obama pledging his commitment, the lawmakers argued that six years after the last sustained congressional effort at an immigration overhaul came up short in the Senate, chances for approval this year are much better.
The president endorsed the Senate process during an event in Las Vegas on Tuesday, administration officials said. He will outline a similar vision for overhauling the nation's immigration laws, drawing on the immigration "blueprint" he first released in 2011. This blueprint focuses on four key areas: a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., improved border security, an overhaul of the legal immigration system and making it easier for businesses to verify the legal status of workers.
Seeking to ramp up pressure on lawmakers, the White House has prepared formal immigration legislation that it could sent to Capitol Hill should the Senate process stall, administration officials said. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal strategy.
Like the president's blueprint, the Senate proposals also call for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here. But lawmakers want the creation of that pathway to be contingent upon securing the border and better tracking of people in the U.S. on visas.
The Senate's five-page framework also calls for overhauling the legal immigration system, including awarding green cards to immigrants who obtain certain advanced degrees from American universities, creating an effective high-tech employment verification system to ensure that employers do not hire illegal immigrants in the future and allowing more low-skill and agricultural workers.
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