Senators will roll out bipartisan framework for immigration reform

Key senators from both parties have agreed to an immigration overhaul that will be unveiled Monday


Jillian Rayfield
January 28, 2013 6:54PM (UTC)

A bipartisan group of eight influential senators will roll out a broad framework for immigration reform on Monday, which will include a pathway to citizenship for the illegal immigrants already in the country, contingent on border security measures.

From the proposal, there are four basic pillars of the plan:

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  •  Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
  • Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;
  • Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and
  • Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation's workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers. 

The New York Times reports:

Their blueprint, set to be unveiled on Monday, will allow them to stake out their position one day before President Obama outlines his immigration proposals in a speech on Tuesday in Las Vegas, in the opening moves of what lawmakers expect will be a protracted and contentious debate in Congress this year.

Lawmakers said they were optimistic that the political mood had changed since a similar effort collapsed in acrimony in 2010. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and one of the negotiators, said he saw “a new appreciation” among Republicans of the need for an overhaul. 

That "new appreciation" probably stems from the results of the 2012 elections, in which President Obama won 71 percent of the Latino vote, compared to Mitt Romney's 27 percent.

In addition to McCain, the group behind the proposals include Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

But even if the Senate passes some version of the proposal, there is, of course, still the House to contend with. From Steve Benen at MSNBC:

The fact that there's a Senate proposal that can probably clear a GOP filibuster is an important step, but that has long been considered the easiest hurdle to clear. Whether the House can pass this or anything else is a tougher question.

Also keep an eye on how Democrats approach negotiations as they unfold in earnest. More so than any other issue on the policy landscape, congressional Republicans are genuinely afraid of immigration -- or more to the point, they're afraid of the electoral consequences of killing it. For many GOP leaders, there's a realization that the party's demographic challenges pose aserious threat to the party's ability to compete on a national level, and if the pieces are in place for a comprehensive reform breakthrough, and House Republicans defeat it because the right wing of the party deems it too liberal, the blowback would be severe.


Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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