Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other leading Democratic senators will formally unveil the outlines of legislation for comprehensive immigration reform late Thursday, CNN has learned.
Two senior Democratic sources say the Senate Democrats will discuss a proposal drafted by Reid, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez.
“This is a draft that reflects months of bipartisan work. It is intended to serve as an invitation to Republicans to look at it and sit down to solve problems with us,” one of the sources said.
The 26-page draft obtained by CNN attempts to woo GOP senators in part by calling for “concrete benchmarks” to secure the border before granting illegal immigrants the opportunity to gain legal status.
Those benchmarks include: increasing the number of border patrol officers and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, increasing the number of personnel available to inspect for drugs and contraband, and improving technology used to assist ICE agents.
At the same time, “high-tech ground sensors” would be installed across the Mexican border. Officers would be equipped with the “technological capability to respond to activation of the ground sensors in the area they are patrolling,” according to the draft.
Fraud-resistant, tamper-resistant biometric Social Security cards would be issued to prevent the hiring of illegal immigrants. Fines for knowingly hiring someone not eligible for employment would be increased by 300 percent. Repeat offenders would face time in prison.
The draft proposal includes a process to legalize an estimated 10.8 million illegal immigrants in the United States. It states that all illegal immigrants living in the United States would be required to “come forward to register, be screened, and, if eligible, complete other requirements to earn legal status, including paying taxes.”
Illegal immigrants cleared by federal authorities would be eligible to petition for permanent resident status eight years after current visa backlogs have cleared.
Quite honestly, other than the biometric Social Security card, which strikes me as being far to close to being a National ID Card for comfort, this doesn’t strike me as being entirely objectionable. The right will blast the bill as promoting amnesty, but, to be honest, it’s not a very generous amnesty provision and it strikes me as a fair compromise to a problem that has to be solved.
At the very least, it seems like a good way to begin a discussion about an issue that has been neglected for decades now.
Of course, this being an election year, I doubt that it will be a civil discussion.