“Four years ago, people, they said, ‘Fix the border,’” Schumer said. “Now they much prefer a comprehensive solution, including a path to citizenship as well as fixing the border. When you look at the polling data, Democrats, independents and Republicans agree with that and people in the North, South, East and West agree with that. So the public is yearning for real change now.”
The principles include creating “a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required.” The senators also included a version of the DREAM Act, which would provide a separate path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came the United States as minors.
The group also calls for creating “an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers.”
And the lawmakers want to “establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., endorsed the effort as he opened the Senate this afternoon. “This is a positive first step. The real test will be to pass a bill,” he said.
After chiding Republicans for not supporting previous immigration bills, Reid said, “nothing short of bipartisan success is acceptable to me.”
Reid also said legislation must be comprehensive and include a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, although they have to learn English, work, pay taxes and stay out of trouble while also going to the end of the line behind those who have legally applied for citizenship. That statement tracks with the bipartisan agreement, as well.
But Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, a former House Judiciary Committee chairman who still serves on that panel’s immigration subcommittee, said the Senate proposal “actually compounds the problem by encouraging more illegal immigration.”
“No one should be surprised that individuals who have supported amnesty in the past still support amnesty,” Smith said of the senators involved in the effort. “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.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.