In a recently completed news conference, an eight-member group of US Senators announced they have reached a bipartisan agreement in principle for comprehensive immigration reform.
Led by John McCain (R-AZ) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) held a news conference to announce the Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
The plan will include four "legislative pillars":
1. 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;
2. Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;
3. Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and,
4. Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.
The agreement includes President Obama's "Path to Citizenship" plan, which allows the estimated 11 million undocumented workers currently within the United States to continue to pursue legal status. However, the issue of tighter border security must be addressed first according to a Reuters report. Until the plan becomes law, no one who has not already filed for permanent legal status under the Path to Citizenship plan will be allowed to do so until new border security measures are implemented. This part of the agreement was key to Republicans fearing an increased number of immigrants would try to gain access into the United States. Once the border security measures are in place, those who have yet to file for resident status will be allowed to do so.
Although Republicans had strongly opposed any idea of "amnesty" for undocumented immigrants in the past, the bipartisan group was able to reach an agreement to maintain the "Path to Citizenship" once Democrats agreed to make efforts to increase border security a top priority.
On Sunday, Sen. McCain told ABC's This Week:
"What's changed, honestly, is that 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."
Jay Carney, spokesman for the White House, said he believes the bipartisan plan mirrors much of what the President believes must be part of any comprehensive immigration reform, saying:
"We welcome this. We think this is positive."
A bipartisan group of U.S. House members have also been meeting to come up with their own version of an immigration reform plan. It is believed that their plan will be announced within the coming days.