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Is viable immigration reform on the way?

by AirTalk®

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US Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) speaks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on January 23, 2013. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

In a rare moment of bipartisanship in Washington, eight leading senators have reached a consensus proposal for immigration reform. The key players are Democrats Chuck Schumer, Richard Durbin, Robert Menendez and Michael Bennet, and Republicans John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and Jeff Flake. They have met five times since the November election, after which Republicans began to embrace the idea of reform after the huge Latino turnout and its effect on the polls. Due to this political climate, and the fact that both parties are eagerly working together, immigration experts are bullish on actual progress being made.

The plan would allow for a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, as long as they pay back taxes, a fine and pass a background check. Then, they would be on probationary status until the government deems the border between the U.S. and Mexico secure. After which, those affected could get a green card, and thus permanent residency.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is expected to deliver his plan for immigration reform tomorrow in Las Vegas. His proposal is expected not to include the condition that the border must be secure before granting legal status, and political analysts believe that the final result will be somewhere in between. While the Senate and the White House are both moving forward on this, pressure will ultimately fall to the House of Representatives, in which the dominant party represents some districts where reform is a four-letter word.

So how will this all shake out? What are the details of the Senate’s plan? Will it clash significantly with Obama’s plan? And how bipartisan will this be when it’s all said and done?


Steven Camarota, Director of Research for the Center for Immigration Studies

Angelica Salas, Executive Director of CHIRLA, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles 

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times

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