The “Gang of Eight” senators who are drafting a bipartisan immigration reform bill have reached an agreement on how to offer a legal status to the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
Aides familiar with the private negotiations told the Los Angeles Times that the bill would mandate undocumented immigrants to register with authorities from the Department of Homeland Security, file and pay back income taxes for the time they’ve lived in the U.S. and pay a fine. Undocumented immigrants will also be required to have a clean criminal record.
Those who meet these requirements would be granted probationary legal status. During this time, they would allow them to work but would be prohibited from receiving federal public benefits, such as food stamps, Medicaid and unemployment benefits.
Questions remain over immigration reform
The group of senators, which includes Latino senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), came to these agreements after meeting privately last week. However, there are still some questions over how certain parts of the immigration reform bill should look.
The biggest question that remains is how long it would take for undocumented immigrants to be able to apply for permanent residency and eventually citizenship. The aides told The Los Angeles Times that it could take a minimum of 10 years before a person would be granted permanent residency.
The aids also said it is unclear how many visas would be issued to high-skilled and less-skilled workers; how to keep a record of when visitors leave the country; and how to pay for additional Border Patrol officers, fencing and other security measures.
The “Gang of Eight” had hoped to have the immigration reform bill ready by March 22, when the Senate is set to adjourn for Easter. But aides said that the unresolved issues pushed the deadline back to early April.