Global Politics

Bipartisan senate group announces immigration reform plan

This story is a part of

Global Nation

This story is a part of

Global Nation

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Protestors outside of the White House in Washington D.C. in May 2010. (Photo by Nevele Otseog via Wikimedia Commons).

A bipartisan group of eight senators announced a plan on Monday to overhaul federal immigration law.

Karen Tumulty, national political reporter for the Washington Post, says this bipartisan deal is crucial because it is rare for Republicans and Democrats to work together and form a moderate approach. 

"I think that both parties have begun to realize that the demographics of this country are shifting and the Republicans realize that unless they can get this particular issue off the table, it's going to be difficult for them to get Latino voters to listen to them on anything else in their agenda," Tumulty says.

Sen. John McCain, one of four Republicans in the group proposing this plan, said that Republicans need to change their stance on immigration reform especially after the last election.

"We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours for a variety of reasons and we've got to understand that. Second of all, we can't go on forever with 11 million people living in this country in the shadow's in an illegal status," he told ABC News on Sunday.

The proposed plan allows undocumented immigrants free of a criminal record to apply for legal residency and eventually citizenship. In order to gain citizenship, immigrants will have to pay a fine in back taxes, learn the English language and learn basic civics about how the U.S. government works.

Under the legislation, there would be stronger punishments for employers who hire undocumented workers and for people who overstay their visas.

The legislation also requires more security at U.S. borders. But Tumulty says stricter border security is often ineffective and expensive.

"The real way to lower the amount of illegal immigration to this country is to dry up the number of jobs on this side waiting for people," she says. 

This legislation has a good chance of passing in the Senate, Tumulty says, because senators represent states, which are politcally diverse.

"This [bill] is going to require a very strong bipartisan vote in the Senate," she says.

But the bill will have a harder time getting passed in the House because of the Republicans who represent strongly conservative districts.

In the House, Speaker John Boehner will have to bring together a majority comprised mostly of Democrats for the proposed plan to pass, Tumulty says.

President Barack Obama is expected to introduce his own plan for immigration reform today. The Washington Post reports that the president's plan will include a more straightforward route for undocumented immigrants to obtain citizenship.