By Teresa Welsh |
A bipartisan group of eight senators Monday presented an outline for a comprehensive immigration proposal they hope will garner enough support from both parties to pass in Congress. Immigration reform proponents say the country can no longer afford to ignore the over 11 million immigrants who are already in the country without documentation, but Republicans and Democrats have thus far been unable to agree on a bill to address the issue.
Republican Sen. John McCain, part of the "Gang of Eight," worked with the late Democratic senator Edward Kennedy on an immigration bill during the George W. Bush administration, but ultimately nothing passed. This year's proposal emphasizes a "tough but fair" path to citizenship for those undocumented immigrants already in the United States. After passing a series of background checks, paying a fine and back taxes, and demonstrating an employment history, applicants would be placed at the end of the line for a green card. There would be a different process for young people who were brought into the country as minors, as well as for agricultural workers.
Supporters of the plan say it is a responsible way to deal with the country's immigration problem, by providing a path to citizenship as well as allowing people to remain in the country who are doing jobs Americans don't want. It also encourages highly-skilled foreign graduates to remain in the United States after they finish their education by giving them green cards.
Opponents say the plan comes at great cost to taxpayers, because immigrants are more likely to be low-income and rely on government assistance. They also say the Senate proposal will do nothing to curb future undocumented immigration and it would only expand rather than reform the failed immigration system by setting a precedent for amnesty.
Is the Senate's immigration deal a good plan? Here is the Debate Club's take:
Marshall Fitz Director of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress
Tamar Jacoby President of ImmigrationWorks USA
Darrell West Director Governance Studies at Brookings Institution
Mark Krikorian Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies
Rosemary Jenks Director of Government Relations at NumbersUSA