Immigration reform at the forefront

Published online: Apr 11, 2013
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Congress returns to Washington this week with the so-called "Gang of Eight" senators hinting they may have an immigration reform plan finalized by the end of the week.

Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida, John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona have been working with Democrats Chuck Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado to come up with a plan to deal with the estimated 11 million undocumented people in the United States.

CNN reports the senators have agreed to a 13-year path to citizenship, 10 years to get a green card and another three to attain citizenship. The first requirement is that the border is secured and a commission would be created to establish quantifiable criteria to verify the border is secure. Undocumented workers would have to pay a fine, pay back taxes and pass a background check. No word as to the size of the fine.

There seems to be a hang-up over undocumented farm workers, specifically over wages and the number of visas which would be granted to those farm workers. Labor leaders reportedly want higher wages and fewer visas while agricultural interests want lower wages and more visas. An agreement has been reached on nonagricultural workers with both the AFL-CIO and U.S. Chamber of Commerce saying it is a workable program.

A similar effort is under way on the House side with Republicans Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Sam Johnson of Texas, John Carter of Texas, Raul Labrador of Idaho working with Democrats Xavier Becerra of California, Luis Guetierrez of Illinois, Zoe Lofgren of California and John Yarmuth of Kentucky. While the House "Gang of Eight" members have been reluctant to talk about their plan, some have said it will mesh with the Senate's version.