Most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States would get a chance to become citizens under a plan released Monday by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, one day before President Barack Obama unveils his own plan for comprehensive immigration reform.
The group of eight lawmakers, including U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., John McCain, R-Ariz., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., announced their agreement on broad principles, which include, among other things, tighter border security and tougher enforcement of rules prohibiting foreigners from overstaying their visas.
While the lawmakers' plan calls for undocumented immigrants to jump through several hoops before they could gain legal status—including paying back taxes and penalties, and waiting in line behind those immigrants who came to the United States legally and are seeking permanent status—young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children would have a more direct route. Many of those youth—popularly known as DREAMers because they are the focus of the long-stalled DREAM Act—are currently seeking approval for deferred action, which puts off deportation for at least two years, and offers a shot at legal work permits.
Sen. McCain, who led a failed effort several years ago to overhaul immigration laws, said he's optimistic that sentiment among lawmakers had changed dramatically since then, especially among Republicans who saw Latinos vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates in the November election.