Bipartisan Group Releases Immigration Reform Outline

A bipartisan group of eight U.S. Senators is unveiling an immigration reform proposal on January 28, which they hope to push through Congress by the end of the year. On January 29, President Barack Obama will speak in Nevada on the issue, according to Reuters.

“We recognize that our immigration system is broken. And while border security has improved significantly over the last two administrations, we still don’t have a functioning immigration system. “Our legislation acknowledges these realities by finally committing the resources needed to secure the border, modernize and streamline our current legal immigration system, while creating a tough but fair legalization program for individuals who are currently here.”

The senators have been working for months on a comprehensive plan to create a path to U.S. citizenship, increase border security, implement an electronic employment verification system and more. The group noted that young illegal immigrants and farm workers would be treated differently than other undocumented immigrants. Measures also include ways to keep and attract more high-tech and STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – professionals.

According to The Washington Post, the immigration plan states that the new system must focus on the needs of the economy and strengthening U.S. families. However, the outline does not specify the breakdown of visas, since there is a limited number to give away.

The outline also refers to a revamped guest worker program, which is one of the most controversial aspects of a reform. The proposal states that businesses would have the ability to hire lower-skilled workers promptly if U.S. citizens are unwilling or able to fill the positions. Immigration proponents say this would not displace U.S. jobs because they are typically hard to fill due to the hard labor component of the work.