U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Ratz, left, and Shone Sessions, right, both wearing the new border patrol uniform, get ready for their shift on their all-terrain vehicles at the Chula Vista Sector Border Patrol Station in San Diego, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007.
Saying their proposal would "secure the border, modernize and streamline our current legal immigration system" and create "a tough but fair legalization program for individuals who are currently here," eight senators are today unveiling a "bipartisan framework for comprehensive immigration reform."
The Associated Press writes that "although thorny details remain to be negotiated and success is far from certain, the development heralds the start of what could be the most significant effort in years toward overhauling the nation's inefficient patchwork of immigration laws." (Note at 9:45 a.m. ET: The AP reports the senators plan to hold a news conference at 2:30 p.m. ET. We will update with news from it.)
Politico says "the broad agreement by the influential Gang of Eight senators amounts to the most serious bipartisan effort to act on the highly charged issue since George W. Bush's comprehensive measure was defeated in the Senate in 2007."
It comes a day before President Obama is due to speak about his own proposals on immigration reform. As Politico adds, "it remains to be seen if Obama will embrace the Senate effort, or how closely his own proposal hews to the Senate one. But the Senate proposal is expected to take precedence on Capitol Hill, given that bipartisan backing will be crucial to getting anything through the Democratic-controlled Senate — let alone the Republican-controlled House."
One of the senators — Republican John McCain of Arizona — said Sunday on ABC-TV's This Week that "the time is right" for reform. "There is a new ... appreciation on both sides of the aisle, including maybe more importantly on the Republican side of the aisle, that we have to," McCain said.
The eight senators are:
-- Republicans McCain, Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.).
-- Democrats Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Richard Durbin (Ill.), Robert Menendez (N.J.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.).
According to The Washington Post, the senators' proposal would "allow undocumented immigrants with otherwise clean criminal records to quickly achieve probationary legal residency after paying a fine and back taxes. But they could pursue full citizenship — giving them the right to vote and access to government benefits — only after new measures are in place to prevent a future influx of illegal immigrants."
An estimated 11 million people across the nation do not have the documentation to prove they entered legally.
The Post has put a copy of the senators' proposal online here. In it, the senators also say their plan would continue to provide the Border Patrol "with the latest technology, infrastructure and personnel need to prevent, detect and apprehend every unauthorized entrant."
The Wall Street Journal notes that:
"The agreement provides a variety of other provisions. Among them: alleviating the backlog of people waiting to immigrate legally; awarding green cards to those who earn doctorates from U.S. universities in science, technology, engineering or math; stiff fines and possible criminal penalties for employers that fail to verify workers' legal status; and creation of a program to fill low-skilled jobs that employers cannot get Americans to take."
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