On Monday, a group of eight U.S. Senators, four Republicans and four Democrats, revealed a new comprehensive immigration reform plan. The plan has the following objectives:
- Secure the border with Mexico.
- Improve methods of tracking whether legal immigrants have left the United States when required to do so.
- Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for illegal immigrants living within the United States.
- Reform the current legal immigration system.
- Create an effective employment verification system to prevent the hiring of unauthorized workers.
- Establish an improved process for admitting guest workers.
At a joint news conference on Monday, five of the eight (pictured above) spoke about the new proposal.
“We have a long way to go, but this bipartisan blueprint is a major breakthrough. …Four years ago they said ‘fix the border.’ Now they say they much prefer a comprehensive solution including a path to citizenship as well as fixing the border,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY).
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said of the proposal, “The introduction of these principles is the first step in what will be a very difficult, but achievable, reform to our immigration system. No one here needs reminding that the last major attempt at immigration reform was over six years ago. Now we will again attempt to commit the remaining resources needed to secure the border, modernize and streamline our current immigration system, and create a tough but fair path to citizenship for those here illegally.”
The proposal also has its detractors. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) criticized the idea, saying, “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.”
2012 Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson had a mixed view of the effort, saying, “As a former border state Governor, I have long maintained that a common sense immigration system is not that difficult to create, if only the extremists and posturing, on both sides, can be set aside from the process. Today’s announced… plan from a bipartisan group of Senators is a step in the right direction, even if there is nothing really new in the proposal. It is a good step simply because it was taken, and taken in a relatively civil way. Sure, there are problems with it: Requiring that the border somehow be deemed ‘secure’ before common sense visa reforms are implemented is pure politics, with no basis in reality. Real border security is knowing who is coming across the border and why they are coming. Fences, drones and troops do nothing to accomplish that. And of course, any mention of federal ‘verification’ systems makes many of us more than a little nervous. But, at least we’re having a conversation.”