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Bipartisan Senators Unveil Immigration Bill

Brianna Sacks |
April 15, 2013 | 10:18 p.m. PDT


(Immigration reform activists/ Jacqueline Jackson, Neon Tommy
(Immigration reform activists/ Jacqueline Jackson, Neon Tommy
After months of back-and forth-negotiations, a group of bipartisan senators have reached an agreement to make comprehensive, substantial changes to U.S. immigration laws that will be unveiled Tuesday.

POLITICO reported that the "Gang of Eight" plans to file the 1,000-plus page bill on Tuesday. Washington delayed the announcement due to the developing, horrific bombing situation at the Boston Marathon earlier this afternoon.

The bipartisan group of U.S. senators have been working on a proposal to address the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. for months. The long-awaited legislation will remove the threat of deportation for these millions of individuals, giving them an opportunity to apply for permanent legal status within 10 years and eventually citizenship, Reuters reported.

Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) — members of the bipartisan group that crafted the bill — will go to the White House Tuesday to meet with President Barack Obama about the deal, said POLITICO.

ALSO: Immigration Bill Would Spike Number Of Legal Arrivals

"What we're working on is a starting point," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said on Meet the Press. "I think it's a very good piece of legislation, but obviously there are 92 other senators who have ideas of their own."

The proposal is titled the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013,” according to a copy of the summary provided to POLITICO.

But those against the comprehensive immigration legislation say that creating a 13-year pathway to citizenship will provide millions of people "amnesty" by giving them expensive new federal benefits, and the bill's cost will add to the country's burgeoning debt.

ALSO: Marco Rubio Slows Immigration Reform Talk

Immigrants would have to pay a $2,000 fine, pass a background check, have a job and wait 10 years before applying for a green card. Then, three years later, they can finally apply to become U.S. citizens.

Under the proposal, undocumented immigrants can apply for "provisional" legal status as soon as six months after the bill is signed by President Obama, as long as they came to the U.S. before Dec. 31, 2011 and have remained in the country.

The bill would also affect visas for high-tech workers, create a new "W-visa" program to attack lower-skilled workers and increase the official quote of "H1-B" visas  for high-skilled, foreign workers in specialty occupations by 69 percent to 110,000. Tech companies have been lobbying for more H-1B visas for years.

Businesses would also be required to use a new electronic-verification system to check the immigration status of their employees. Billions of dollars would also be spend on tightened security at the U.S. Mexico border, particularly at "high risk" areas where 90 percent of immigrants cross.

ALSO: U.S. Immigration Reform Takes National Stage In City Streets

Although the bipartisan group finally came to an agreement after intense back-and-forth negotiations ongoing since January, lawmakers are expecting the bill to encounter significant opposition, especially in the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.

The comprehensive legislation is the most ambitious effort to change immigration policy since George W. Bush's attempt in 2007.

Read the whole story at POLITICO.

Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage on immigration reform.

Reach Editor-at-Large Brianna Sacks here



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