Wednesday, February 28, 2007

McCain and Kennedy set to file changes to immigration bill

The title above links to an article in today's Boston Globe written by Rick Klein.

Senators Edward M. Kennedy and John McCain are set to introduce a revised version of their sweeping plan to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, in a bill that's likely to restart a tense debate in Congress.

The measure, which is being drafted in consultation with the White House, will largely mirror the immigration bill that stalled last year, according to lawmakers and aides involved in the process. That measure was blocked primarily because House Republican leaders were adamantly opposed to provisions that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to become US citizens.

Though negotiations are still ongoing, this year's bill will most likely leave in place the 700-mile border fence, the creation of which was signed into law last year. It would also double the size of the US Border Patrol and add new means to crack down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants, a further attempt to assuage concerns about the nation's porous borders.

But the bill is likely to enrage advocates of a get-tough approach to immigration by allowing most of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants already in this country to earn legalized status. Early drafts of the bill would allow them to become citizens after about 12 years if they meet requirements such as learning English, passing a criminal background check, and paying back taxes and a $2,000 fine. (snip)

The bill, set to be introduced in the House and Senate as soon as next week, will also include a "guest worker" program for immigrants to work in the United States under temporary visas -- an oft-stated goal of President Bush. (snip)

The bill's sponsors are looking to jettison the three-tiered approach to citizenship included in last year's measure, which allowed undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States the longest to take a far easier path to citizenship than newer arrivals.

That system would have made it all but impossible for anyone with fewer than two years' residence in the country to gain citizenship -- a circumstance that some officials warned would probably have kept the status of a substantial number of immigrants unclear.

The bill's sponsors are still discussing whether to require undocumented immigrants to register at a US port of entry in order to qualify for citizenship. Though some immigrant-rights groups warn that meeting that qualification would be a burden for low-income families, many conservatives insist the so-called "touch back" is legitimate and should be a part of the citizenship process.

"It's a way to avoid the amnesty concerns, and avoid people breaking in line ahead of those who have been waiting outside of the country to enter legally," said Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican with ties to the White House.
Since the bill has not been filed yet, there is no link yet to a text of the bill.

1 comment:

Betsy McKenzie said...

Kennedy is sponsoring an immigration bill that's available now, S. 703,
"To expand the definition of immediate relative for purposes of the Immigration and Nationality Act." This is not the one that he was co-sponsoring with McCain. As of 3/7, I still don't find that anywhere.