National Immigration Forum

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Schumer, Graham Publish Framework for Immigration Reform Legislation

March 19, 2010 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

Just in time to answer an anticipated crowd of thousands of immigration reform advocates who will be descending on Washington this weekend, Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY, head of the Senate's Immigration Subcommittee) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have published their "framework" for immigration reform.  Their collective ideas for fixing the immigration system appeared as an op-ed in the Washington Post on March 19.  The two Senators have been involved in discussions about immigration reform legislation for months.

The elements of the framework, as described in the op-ed, include a biometric social security card, to be carried by all workers, to prevent unauthorized workers from getting jobs.  There would be more personnel, infrastructure, and technology on the border.  There would be expanded interior enforcement aimed at apprehending and deporting criminals.  It would require completion of the entry-exit system (US-VISIT), to determine whether visitors leave the country before their visas expire.  Regarding the future admission of workers, the framework would provide green cards for foreigners who graduate with a Master's degree or PhD in science, technology, engineering, or math.  It would also provide for a number of lower-skilled immigrants, with levels depending on what is happening in the economy.  Finally, the framework provides for legalization of undocumented immigrants, requiring them to perform community service, pay fines, pass a background check, pay any back taxes owed, be proficient in English, and go to the "back of the line" to wait for a chance to earn permanent residence.

The elements of the framework are described very broadly; it was not meant to be a detailed outline of a bill, and the op-ed leaves out important elements of reform.  We can be certain there will be spirited debate about details as the framework is translated into legislation.  Still, this bipartisan framework is a step forward in a debate that has been stuck for months.

The President reacted to the framework, issuing a statement calling it "a promising, bipartisan framework which can and should be the basis for moving forward."  The release noted that "a critical next step will be to translate their framework into a legislative proposal" and the President pledged "to do everything in my power to forge a bipartisan consensus this year…." 

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