US senators push for immigration reform

US senators push for immigration reform

WASHINGTON – Agence France-Presse
US senators push for immigration reform

AP Photo

Eight U.S. lawmakers crossed party lines to unveil a plan Monday that would provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the shadows in the country.

“We recognize that our immigration system is broken,” the senators said in their bipartisan framework, which comes as President Barack Obama vows a fresh push on immigration in his second term.

It promises a “tough but fair” path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, reform that would build the U.S. economy, an “effective” employment verification system and an improved process to admit future workers.

In a bid to combat visa overstays, the lawmakers offered a requirement for those in the country illegally to register with the government.

Around 40 percent of the illegal immigrants now in the U.S. entered the country legally but then let their visa expire, according to official estimates.

But under the plan, they would also be able to earn “probationary” legal status, to live and work legally in the U.S., after passing a background check and paying a fine and back taxes. Those with a “serious” criminal background or who otherwise threaten U.S. national security would not be eligible for legal status and would face deportation, according to the framework document. “Individuals with probationary legal status will be required to go to the back of the line of prospective immigrants” and pass an additional background check, among other requirements, the document said.