News / USA

US Senators Unveil Immigration Reform Plan

A group of eight Democratic and Republican senators unveiled key elements Monday of a proposed compromise to reform the U.S. immigration system.  President Barack Obama will use an event in Nevada on Tuesday to lay out his vision on the issue. 
What the Senate lawmakers called “tough but fair” proposals would accomplish key objectives Obama and previous presidents have long supported, including a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.
The plan specifically links eventual citizenship with future steps to enhance border security. Immigrants seeking a "green card" - the document needed to work legally - would have to satisfy all requirements, such as payment of taxes and any outstanding fines, and demonstrate their English-language ability. 
Also included are steps Obama has advocated to boost the U.S. economy, by ending a talent drain in which the children of illegal immigrants who acquired an education and skills - and their parents - are forced to leave the United States. 
Press Secretary Jay Carney welcomed the framework, but he declined to discuss legislative timetables or even say if Obama will propose a bill himself.  Carney said conditions appear right for progress.
“He believes that we are at a moment now where there seems to be support coalescing at a bipartisan level behind the very principles that he has long put forward," he said. 
Carney said Obama's remarks Tuesday in Nevada, a state he won in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections with strong Hispanic and labor union support, will engage Americans in a conversation about the challenge ahead.
Democratic and Republican congressional aides said the Senate plan was deliberately released now to provide political separation from Mr. Obama and demonstrate that Congress is determined to act.
Obama spoke about immigration reform in his second inaugural address.
“Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity, until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country," he said. 
Congressional proposals include further strengthening of border security, steps to prevent employers from hiring illegal immigrants and bolstering measures to prevent identity theft.
The Senate plan would give green cards to immigrants who obtain advanced degrees at U.S. universities.  Agricultural workers would be treated differently from other undocumented immigrants.  Employers would be allowed to to hire immigrants if citizens cannot be found.
Calling their framework a first step, senators said a tough fight lies ahead, but that they are confident immigration reform can be achieved despite the sort of opposition that has derailed previous efforts. 
Democratic Senator Charles Schumer said,  “We believe this will be the year Congress finally gets it done.  The politics on this issue have been turned upside down.  For the first time ever, there is more political risk in opposing immigration reform than supporting it.”
At the same press conference, Republican Senator John McCain said, “Now we will again attempt to commit the remaining resources needed to secure the border, modernize and streamline our current immigration system, and create a tough but fair path to citizenship for those here illegally.”
Though the bipartisan Senate group includes influential Republicans such as Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a potential 2016 Republican presidential contender, organizations that opposed past reform efforts are not persuaded.
Rosemary Jenks represents NumbersUSA, a group that says the Senate plan is a rehash of past proposals that would offer amnesty for illegal immigrants.
“The problem with amnesty is that if you send the message to the world that, if you can come to the United States illegally and manage to break the law for long enough, we will reward you with amnesty," she said. "So the message is, 'Come on in.'”
The chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Lamar Smith, also calls the new proposals an amnesty.
Despite the display of Senate bipartisanship, John Sides of George Washington University says it is likely to take time for immigration legislation to move forward on Capitol Hill.
“A timeline that ends in March strikes me as pretty ambitious. I don't think that is because there is not a will to make this happen in Congress. I just think it is a question of the natural slowness [of the legislative process] and the need for different constituencies to buy in," he said.  
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, whose members met with Obama last week, called the Senate plan a positive step and expressed hope that Republicans who control the House of Representatives will see it as workable.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the Senate plan could help protect illegal immigrants from exploitation by employers and discourage racial profiling. But the liberal group is concerned about a requirement for an electronic verification system, which it sees as “a thinly disguised national ID requirement” that undermines privacy and imposes new burdens on businesses. 

You May Like

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: dwight from: dc
January 29, 2013 8:18 AM
Shame on the writer Dan Robinson for referring to illegal aliens as "immigrants". That's offensive and disparaging to include my parents who came here legally, with a group of criminals who have no respect for our laws. It's also clear how he gives amnesty aka "immigration reform" a positive slant in this article by refusing to mention criticism. VOA is not respectable, like most biased left-wing media.

by: phuong from: goergia
January 29, 2013 12:27 AM
Please stop trying to invite illegal immigrants to this country. Stop trying to give green cards for the so-called immigrants who obtain advanced degrees at U.S. universities. They just come here to take our jobs. Stop trying to take american jobs to give to other in the name of reform.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs