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Senators hopeful of immigration reform by summer

January 29, 2013 14:05 IST

US flagInfluential US Senators hope to have a comprehensive immigration reform in place by this summer, which would legalise 11 million undocumented workers and address the issue of long wait for permanent residency.

"We have come together on a set of bipartisan principles for comprehensive immigration reforms that we hope can pass the Senate in an overwhelming and bipartisan fashion," Senator Charles Schumer said after he and a bi-partisan group of seven influential Senators came up with set of bipartisan principles for comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

"It's our hope that these principles can be turned into legislation by March with the goal of passage out of the Senate by late spring or summer," Schumer, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, told reporters.

The plan, crafted by four Republicans and four Democrats, comprises of four elements -- creating a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants, reforming the legal immigration system, setting up an effective employment verification system, and creating an improved process for admitting into the US valuable workers.

The White House welcomed the move on immigration and termed it as a big deal.

"This is a big deal. This is an important development.

This is in keeping with the principles the president has been espousing for a long time, in keeping with bipartisan efforts in the past and with the effort this president believes has to end in a law that he can sign," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference.

Obama is scheduled to announce tomorrow his aspect of a comprehensive immigration policy at Las Vegas in Nevada.

Schumer said that to prove to the American people that they are serious about permanently ending illegal immigration to the US, that will never put these individuals on a path to citizenship until they have fully secured the country's borders and combated the pattern of people overstaying their legal immigration visas.

"This is a first step in what will continue to be difficult but achievable," Senator John McCain said.

However, he cautioned that the country should not repeat the mistakes of 1986 when the US gave amnesty to three million people, promised the border world be secure, and now it is dealing with 11 million people residing here illegally.

"I see the negatives that illegal immigration has been for our country and the problems that it causes.

And the reality of it is these are issues that the vast majority of Americans agree with as well.

The vast majority of Americans believe that we need to have a legal immigration system that works, and they recognize that what we have now is not a 21st- century legal immigration system," Senator Mark Rubio said.

According to the framework proposed by the Senators, the United States must do a better job of attracting and keeping the world's best and brightest.

"As such, our immigration proposal will award a green card to immigrants who have received a PhD or Master's degree in science, technology, engineering, or math from an American university," they said.

"It makes no sense to educate the world's future innovators and entrepreneurs only to ultimately force them to leave our country at the moment they are most able to contribute to our economy," the Senators said.

"Our new immigration system must be more focused on recognizing the important characteristics which will help build the American economy and strengthen American families.

Additionally, we must reduce backlogs in the family and employment visa categories so that future immigrants view our future legal immigration system as the exclusive means for entry into the United States," the Senators said.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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