On Monday, a bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators came out with the preliminary framework for an immigration reform bill that would provide many undocumented immigrants with a path to citizenship. The Senators called the proposal "tough but fair," and said there are still many details to work out.
Following the announcement, a White House spokesman called the plan a "big deal" and an "important development."
In addition to providing a path to residency and citizenship, the plan also focuses on tighter security at the border as well as increased guest-worker permits. The eight members of the panel said that they want to have a bill drafted by March so that Congress can be prepared to vote on it in August.
Residency and citizenship opportunities for many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States would come with a price under the plan. The Senators said applicants would have to pay fines, back taxes and would have to submit to a criminal background check to ensure that they don't pose a threat to society.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is one of the members of the panel, has said something has to be done about the undocumented immigrant population in the country, but it would be impossible to deport the millions of people who are in the country illegally. He said that "blanket amnesty" is also not the right answer, which is why those who choose to stay in the country will have to face consequences.
At this point, it appears that some of the consequences would include "probationary legal status" for a period of time that is yet to be determined, as well as disqualification from government benefits. Additionally, undocumented immigrants would not qualify for citizenship until people who legally applied before them are granted citizenship, and the borders have been verified as secure.
Source: The Miami Herald, "Rubio, Senate 'Gang of Eight' unveil 'tough but fair' bipartisan immigration deal," Jan. 28, 2013