Pathway to Citizenship in New Immigration Reform Plan
Today saw a major breakthrough in the ongoing push for comprehensive immigration reform as a bipartisan group of senators unveiled a blueprint aimed at fixing the current immigration system.
During a press conference led by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the group briefed the press on their goals for a bill that would win broad bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House and discussed what it took to get to this point.
While Schumer acknowledged that there have been similar proposals in the past, he said “we believe this will be the year Congress finally gets it done.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who has been a tireless advocate for immigration reform and first introduced the DREAM Act (a bill that would give undocumented youth a path to citizenship) 12 years ago, said that “the DREAM Act will be an integral part” of the bill they hope to pass.
“A lot of tears were shed when we were unable to pass the DREAM Act,” he added. “I met with young people after the bill failed and I promised them that we’re not giving up on them. They’ve shown great courage and the fact that last year both presidential candidates were asked where they stood on the DREAM Act is proof of how far we’ve come.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has recently increased his calls for reform, joined Durbin and Schumer at the press conference . As someone who comes from an immigrant family, he spoke about “how important the issue is to our heritage and our future,” but added that he is also aware the current system is broken and that “the vast majority of Americans believe we need an immigration system that works.”
Included in the framework are commitments to:
- Provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already here
- Strengthen border security
- Require employers to verify that all employees are documented
- Ties legal immigration flow to the state of our economy
While this is just the first step and a deal isn’t likely to be passed until the summer, the White House greeted the news with optimism. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that President Obama “welcomes the efforts by the partisan group in the Senate” and that the blueprint “mirrors” Obama’s approach.
Advocates have begun to dissect what has become the Senate’s frame for drafting a bipartisan proposal (set to be introduced in the Congress in March). In a statement released by United We DREAM, the nation’s largest immigrant youth organization, Greisa Martinez, a DREAMer from Texas, said “DREAMers will fight for every DREAMer, parent, and member of our community, demanding that we all have a direct and clear path to citizenship, not one that hinges on lengthy waits in a generation-long line.”
The president is set to announce his own list of priorities for what should be included in an immigration deal tomorrow in Las Vegas.
Young people played a critical role in the 2012 election and today is proof that the momentum for change is continuing to grow. Millennials have strongly supported the DREAM Act (64 percent) and immigration reform for some time and if members of Congress can successfully engage them on this issue, they will play a key part in pushing a deal through.
Abraham White is a communications associate at Campus Progress. Follow him on Twitter @abwhite7.
- All You Need to Know About The Heritage’s Problematic Study [LINKS]
- Approaching Mother’s Day, Undocumented Youth Ask to Reunite With Deported Mothers
- Amendments to Immigration Reform Bill Are In, See How LGBT Families Are Impacted
- Amid Immigration Reform Talks, Obama Makes His Position on LGBT Families Clear
- Young People, Immigrants and Workers Make Noise On May Day In NYC