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U.S. senators unveil immigration reform plan

by Chris Casteel Published: January 28, 2013

Schumer said that the 11 million people now here illegally without a criminal record would have a legal right to stay in the country immediately after passage of the legislation.

However, the senators' outline would require new border security measures before any undocumented workers could pursue a path to citizenship, and those seeking that path would have to get in line behind legal immigrants. The senators said agricultural workers and the children of undocumented residents would have an accelerated process.

McCain said more Republicans may support the effort now because the GOP is “losing the support of our Hispanic citizens” in elections.

Oklahoma's senators were not ready to comment Monday on the proposals. Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, and Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, strongly opposed the legislation in 2007 and helped block its passage.

Reaction to proposals

Some lawmakers came out against the blueprint, including Sen. Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee.

Sessions said “a large-scale amnesty is likely to add trillions of dollars to the debt over time, accelerate Medicare's and Social Security's slide into insolvency, and put enormous strain on our public assistance programs.

“We know already that the administration refuses to enforce existing law restricting immigrant welfare use, and in fact promotes expanded welfare use to immigrants — including food stamps, public housing and Medicaid.”

The proposals were endorsed by some business and labor leaders, along with some religious organizations that have been pushing for comprehensive reform.

Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said, “The senators have introduced principles for a bill that has a true chance of passing. I think they sense this is a real opportunity.”

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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