WASHINGTON, January 28 (RIA Novosti) - A bipartisan group of eight US senators has agreed on principles for sweeping US immigration reform and will unveil ideas for new legislation on matters ranging from border security to guest worker programs and pathways to citizenship, US media reported Monday.
“We recognize that our immigration system is broken. And while border security has improved significantly over the last two Administrations, we still don't have a functioning immigration system,” the four Republicans and four Democrats wrote in a document released to several US media outlets.
“This has created a situation where up to 11 million undocumented immigrants are living in the shadows,” said the senators, who were scheduled formally to announce their immigration reform compromise plan at a news conference later Monday.
The new plan includes enhanced border security efforts and a crackdown on US employers who hire illegal workers – elements that Republicans want – along with a clear plan for legal work status and possible citizenship which Democrats support.
According to the document, the senators have agreed to several basic principles of immigration reform including:
· A “tough but fair path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants already living in the US
· An employment verification system that will end the practice of hiring illegal workers
· A process for admitting future workers as the US workforce needs
"There is a new, I think, appreciation on both sides of the aisle – including maybe more importantly on the Republican side of the aisle – that we have to enact a comprehensive immigration reform bill," Republican Senator John McCain said on an ABC News television talk show.
“Look at the last election,” he added. “We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours.”
Hispanic citizens, who traditionally tend toward conservative, Republican views, voted overwhelmingly for President Barack Obama, a Democrat who has pushed for immigration reform, in the November 2012 presidential election.
The issue of what to do with an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants has been a thorny dilemma for US lawmakers and the public, with passionate debate over whether undocumented workers should be aggressively rounded up and deported or recognized as an integral part of the American workforce that should be accommodated legally.
“Sadly, our immigration system is broken, and our dysfunctional Congress has been unable to put in place a new legal immigration system that honors our heritage as both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws,” wrote Senator Marco Rubio, in an op-ed published Sunday in the Las Vegan Review-Journal.
Most undocumented workers are not dangerous criminals, but neither are they victims, he wrote, adding that they made choices “in pursuit of a dream we recognize as the American dream,” and that “the best thing for our country is to deal with this issue in a humane but responsible way.”
Obama is scheduled to travel to Nevada on Tuesday to announce his own plan for immigration reform.
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