A new push for immigration reform was introduced in the Senate Monday and puts millions on a path to citizenship.
This easier path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants isn’t a sure thing but what it does show is that President Obama’s second term goal of immigration reform is getting noticed on Capitol Hill.
The plan, introduced by both Democrats and Republicans today, including senators John McCain of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida has four main objectives.
First, it provides a tough but fair path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the United States, after bolstering border security.
Second, is will give green cards to immigrants with advanced degrees in science, technology, math and engineering.
Third it will set up an employment verification system that holds employers accountable for hiring undocumented workers.
Lastly, the plan aims to create a guest worker program for jobs that Americans are either unable or unwilling to do.
“We have a broken immigration system, 11million living in limbo,” said Illinois State Senator Dick Durbin. “This statement of values is a good starting point to long-term approach that’s fair.”
“Today’s an important first step. The issue of immigration is not a simple one. (This is a )tremendous service to our country and to its future,” said Rubio.
Conservative leaders voiced their opposition to what they called an Obama-amnesty.
“When you legalize those who are in the country illegally, it costs taxpayers millions of dollars, costs American workers thousands of jobs and encourages more illegal immigration,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. “By granting amnesty, the Senate proposal actually compounds the problem by encouraging more illegal immigration.”
But this afternoon in Chicago, 133 new U.S. citizens took their oath of citizenship. Many spent years getting to this point and news of a potential compromise in Washington is welcomed.
Michelle Schaps who moved from Thailand 5 years ago said “We’ve been living here for so long I don’t know why it’s so difficult for people of the country to become US citizens. It’s very difficult.”
What may prove more difficult is getting any support from conservative Republicans in congress. Utah Senator Mike Lee said the policy “will grant special benefits to illegal immigrants,” while activist group, the Minuteman Project likened it to amnesty.
“We’ve been hearing this for years. As a matter of fact we can go all the way back to 1985 with Reagan’s amnesty, it was the same thing. Pay your fine, you get to stay and no more illegal immigration. It’s been more than 20 years and look what’s happened,” said Rick Biesada of Illinois Minuteman Project.