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Bipartisan group of senators reach agreement on overhaul of nation's immigration system

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 29th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Immigration is shaping up to be a vitally important aspect of U.S. President Obama's second term in office and is a concern shared by both major parties. A bipartisan group of senators, the senior members are Democrat Chuck Schumer and Republican John McCain, have reached an agreement on a framework of principles to overhaul the nation's immigration system.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Senators hope the Senate will quickly, based on these principles, draft legislation which could be passed "in overwhelming and bipartisan fashion" by late spring or early summer.

The most dynamic voice among this group is coming from the Republican who seems poised to move the matter forward and build a coalition to break the stalemate, Senator Marco Rubio.

Five of the eight members of a bipartisan working group announced the details of the agreement in a press conference on Capitol Hill, which would simultaneously shore up America's borders and provide an eventual path to citizenship for undocumented workers.

"We still have a long way to go, but this bipartisan grouping is a major breakthrough," New York Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democratic member of the group of eight, said.

Schumer said the Senate would try to approve the legislation for consideration in the House by the agreed upon timeline.

The major development involves citizenship for undocumented workers that would be established under the Senate plan. Conservatives have previously resisted similar proposals, even when they were proposed by President George W. Bush and labeled them as "amnesty" for individuals who entered the United States illegally.

In response, Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., said that Americans "have been too content for too long" to allow many undocumented workers to provide basic services "while not affording them any of the benefits that make our country so great.

"It is not beneficial to this country to have these people here, hidden in the shadows," McCain added, whose own experience on the issue of immigration provides an instructive example of why immigration reform has been so elusive for Congress.

One of the most vocal advocates of what is sometimes called a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers, McCain tempered his opinions in recent years amid scrutiny from some fellow conservatives. McCain appeared in a television ad in 2010 saying it was time to "build the danged fence," in reference to the proposed fence along the U.S.-Mexico border favored by a number of Republicans.

The bipartisan panel's announcement arrived just as President Obama was set to make a major policy address in Nevada on the topic of immigration. While Obama had not been expected to outline any formal legislation during his remarks, lawmakers from both parties will carefully parse the president's words for their impact on the immigration debate.

According to Schumer, he had spoken to the president about the Senate framework, and that the president was "delighted" by it.

Obama himself had vowed to achieve comprehensive immigration reform during his first term. That apparent failure invited a degree of consternation from the Latino community during last year's presidential campaign. The president responded with executive action to halt the deportation of individuals who were illegally brought to the United States as children.

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