WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of senators unveiled immigration reform proposals Monday that would allow an estimated 11 million undocumented residents to remain in the country while they pursue a path to citizenship.
The senators' blueprint — released a day before President Barack Obama is scheduled to lay out his own principles for immigration reform in a speech in Las Vegas — is similar in its approach to legislation killed in the Senate in 2007.
The senators called for a legal path to citizenship for undocumented workers, contingent upon enhanced border security, and said the current system for legal immigration will be reworked to allow for an orderly flow of immigrants to match employment needs.
The four Republicans in the bipartisan group of eight senators include Sen. John McCain, of Arizona, a former GOP presidential nominee, and Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, considered a potential GOP presidential candidate.
McCain, who worked on the last major overhaul under President George W. Bush, said at a Capitol Hill news conference that passing comprehensive reform would be “difficult but achievable.”
He said the blueprint agreed upon by the eight senators would secure the border, modernize and streamline the current immigration system and create a “tough but fair” path to citizenship for the people here illegally who don't have a criminal record.
“In reality, what has been created is a de facto amnesty,” McCain said. “We, the American people, have been too content for too long to allow individuals to mow our lawn, serve us food, clean our homes and even watch our children while not affording them any of the benefits that make our country so great … Let's create a system to bring them forward, allow them to settle their debt to society and fulfill the necessary requirements to become law abiding citizens of this country.
“This is consistent with our country's tradition of being a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said he hoped legislation incorporating the senators' proposals could be passed by early this summer.