April 29th, 2010
03:12 PM ET
13 years ago

Senate Democrats to push new immigration reform plan

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/21/art.arizonafence.07.gi.jpg caption="Top Democrats will formally announce the outlines of legislation for comprehensive immigration reform on Thursday."] Washington (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and other leading Democratic senators will formally unveil the outlines of
legislation for comprehensive immigration reform late Thursday, CNN has learned.

Two senior Democratic sources tell CNN that the Senate Democrats will discuss a proposal drafted by Reid, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez.

"This is a draft that reflects months of bipartisan work. It is intended to serve as an invitation to Republicans to look at it and sit down to solve problems with us," one of the sources said.

Several Senate Democratic sources have also acknowledged to CNN, however, that there is virtually no chance immigration reform will pass the Senate this year. Many of those sources privately admit a key reason Democratic leaders are pushing the plan is to appeal to Hispanic voters in Nevada, who will play a big role in Reid's uphill battle for re-election in November.

The 26-page draft obtained by CNN acknowledges GOP concerns about Mexican border security by calling for "concrete benchmarks" to secure the border before granting illegal immigrants the opportunity to gain legal status.

Those benchmarks include: increasing the number border patrol officers and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, increasing the number of personnel available to inspect for drugs and contraband, and improving technology used to assist ICE agents.

At the same time, "high-tech ground sensors" would be installed across the Mexican border. Officers would be equipped with the "technological capability to respond to activation of the ground sensors in the area they are patrolling," according to the draft.

Fraud-resistant, tamper-resistant biometric Social Security cards would be issued to prevent the hiring of illegal immigrants. Fines for knowingly hiring someone not eligible for employment would be increased by 300 percent. Repeat offenders would face time in prison.

The draft proposal includes a process to legalize an estimated 10.8 million illegal immigrants in the United States. It states that all illegal immigrants living in the United States would be required to "come forward to register, be screened, and, if eligible, complete other requirements to earn legal status, including paying taxes."

Illegal immigrants cleared by federal authorities would be eligible to petition for permanent resident status eight years after current visa backlogs have cleared.

Reid, Schumer, Menendez and three other Democratic senators met Wednesday evening with immigration reform advocates and agreed to hold a press conference Thursday to formally unveil the draft, CNN has learned.

Other leaders on the issue have been trying to secure elusive GOP support for the push, which is one of President Barack Obama's top domestic priorities. Schumer told CNN Thursday he is continuing to meet with Republicans on the issue.

But New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, one the Republicans who spoke to Schumer Thursday, told CNN he "won't do anything on immigration until the administration shows some willingness to address the border issue, and I think so far they have not fulfilled their responsibilities on the border."

Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she told Schumer on Wednesday that before moving ahead with other elements of immigration reform, a "real effort must be made first to secure the border and do all we can there."

Both Gregg and Murkowski said they do not consider themselves "in play" to potentially back the Democratic plan.

Meanwhile, the top Republican in the House dismissed the plan as little more than a political ploy with little chance of passage.

"There is not a chance that immigration is going to move through the Congress," said House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

"I've been around here for a little while and know that in the middle of an election year after we've had bills like health care shoved down our throats ... you cannot do a serious piece of legislation of this size." The proposal "is nothing more than a cynical ploy to engage voters, some segment of voters, to show up in this November's elections."

Boehner said that while Congress needs to take up the issue of immigration reform, "you can't do it without serious bipartisan conversations
and bipartisan discussions."

In arguing that immigration reform cannot pass Congress this year, Boehner referenced Obama's comments on Air Force One Tuesday night, when the president said "there may not be an appetite immediately to dive into another controversial issue" on Capitol Hill.

"It's a matter of political will," Obama told reporters. "We've gone
through a very tough year, and I've been working Congress pretty hard."

Several sources involved in the Democratic effort noted that Reid promised Hispanics in Nevada - a key voting bloc for the majority leader - that he would bring up immigration reform. If the Republicans immediately reject the proposal, they indicated, Reid may have sufficient political cover to not bring the divisive issue to the Senate floor.

A spokesman for Reid took issue Thursday with the assertion that the Senate majority leader is pushing the bill for political reasons.

"Reid's commitment to this issue is genuine and long-standing," Jim Manley said. "Even though people think he's doing this for political reasons, he wants to do this because he believes it is the right thing to do."

- CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Alan Silverleib contributed to this report

UPDATED 3:15 p.m.

Filed under: Democrats • Immigration • Popular Posts
soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "That sentence ought to read, "The draft proposal also includes a process to add an estimated 10.8 million supporters of the Democratic Party.""

    That kind of idiot mentality is precisely why the GOPers will fight tooth and nail to prevent anything from being done on immigration. Reality? Alot of the people coming over the border are very religious christians who are anti-abortion, etc., and while browner and less virulently moronic than our homegrown white bible-thumpers, they would be very likely to support some of the social conservative positions the GOP champions. The GOP would just have to stop acting like racist turds first...which may be why they are so afraid that new citizens would side withthe Dems. It's their own fault.

    April 29, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  2. southerncousin

    Another great job creation, economy stimulating move by the tards, or is it just a cynical ploy to get themselves and their lying leader reelected? Or just another expensive waste of our time and energy?

    April 29, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  3. Tayo

    Politics all the way!

    Let see how the GOP will spin this?

    Would they alienate the Hispanics buy saying NO to immigration reform?

    April 29, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  4. Matthew Koech

    There are thousands of people who not a US citizens but came to this Country legally. They have followed all the rules and regulations. The bill will only address and help people who are here illegally and ignore those who are here legally. I still don't understand why you should reward unlawful behavior at the expense of the Citizens of this Country and those who are here legally.

    April 29, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  5. j williamson

    It's funny that when (conservative icon) Ronald Reagan introduced amnesty for the illegals in the 1980's, the President said "just this once" and somehow thought not a single individual would ever sneak into the US again. Instead millions more came – awaiting their "turn," which apparently will soon come. Last time for this amnesty too?

    April 29, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  6. rob

    For all you who are complaining about the Republicans, please read this passage of the article.

    "Democratic sources have suggested Reid plans to go forward with immigration with or without GOP support.

    Many of those sources privately admit a key reason is to appeal to Hispanic voters in Nevada, who will play a big role in his uphill battle for re-election in November.

    However, some influential outside advocates like Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America's Voice, have told CNN they are concerned about pushing legislation with no chance of passing, for political reasons."

    Harry Reid is the most "PARTISAN" Hack to ever hold the post of Majority Leader in the Senate. Schumer and Menendez are both on the Senate Re-election boards whose sole goal is to defeat Republicans in elections. Does anyone think they would let the republicans in on any real decision making on anything?

    April 29, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. Paul

    America is the land of opportunity, where we proud ourselves on innovative solutions to many problems. I'm sure if we work together this can be solved. YES WE CAN!

    April 29, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  8. Elmer

    To any Washington DC politician who has anything to say about Arizona's actions to defend itself....do your job and deal with the illegals or get out of the way! States have the right to defend themselves and federal legislators are cowards when it comes to this issue. If you have a better idea on how to deal with this huge problem, lets hear it.

    April 29, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  9. lmj

    Cynthia, we have no idea how it will effect the health care bill because we can't find anyone who wants to make some thing work. All we hear is NO, NO, NO. This won't work. I used to be an independent but the Party of NO has changed that. I plan to work for every Democrat I can this go around and hope the party of NO becomes just that–NO PARTY.

    April 29, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  10. Bobbie in Maryland

    It's about time!! We need comprehensive, humanitarian immigration reform, as it is LONG overdue. Come on, Congress. Join our President in this vital cause.
    Let's work together for the COMMON good!

    April 29, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    I will back amnesty for illegal immigrants if legal citizens are all given one "get out of jail free" card for braking a non-violent the law.
    I have nothing agianst legal immigration, but those that chose to cross our borders without proper authorization should not be given preferential treatment to the tens of thousands waiitng legally to get in.
    If this bill goes forward wihtout a change- please write your Congressman and Senators and ask for your amnesty for a future crime- correction: don't ask- demand.

    April 29, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  12. Ken in NC

    I finally figured out why Republicans are against immigration reform. Republicans are illegal immigrants. They, along with Democrats and all others except Indians and the Spanards are immigrants. They are being quiet on immigration reform because the truth be know, we would end up having to show our papers to the Spanards and Indians and we can't do it.

    April 29, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  13. Rubber Meeting the Road

    I'd like to see the Chicago Congressman, Guiterriez bringing forth some solutions.

    As the head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, he has a responsibility to help craft an acceptable plan that can pass Congress ... not just be a bomb thrower from the LEFT.

    Any plan that has a hope of passing the House & Senate can not give complete amnestry to all of 100% of the illegal aliens in America today. I'd like to hear from Latinos what restrictions are going to be placed on these people. To win support from the rest of the country, they will have to include:'

    1.) English Only Education / Learn English .

    2.) Financial Remuneration for entering the Naturalization process

    3.) Rigorous Biometric Identification cards for all aliens that go beyond the data held on United States citizens (fingerprints, pictures, DNA sample, mother / father info) ... this includes both "guest workers" and people waiting to become citizens.

    4.) Preference given to college graduates ... people with capital .... folks that can bring more to America than they take from it. We should encourage Central America's best and brightest to come here by establishing this advantage.

    5.) Penalties and enforcement staff to hold businesses accountable for hiring illegals.

    6) Limits on size of ILLEGAL families that can tap into the American entitlement programs.

    April 29, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  14. Robert Warner

    It seems like it's never the right time for anything with the GOP. Why don't y'all just stay home and let the grownups get their work done?

    April 29, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  15. Dar

    Odumbo is freaking out now, there goes over 10 millon votes that he would gain if the states start taking matters into their own hands and deporting the illegal's back to where they came.

    Odumbo wants to make them Americans now at any cost for the almighty vote and that's all. At least then he wouldn't have lied about not giving illegals health care benifts if he makes them American's.

    This guy has all the angles and people are falling for it, just read most of the comments on here. Blind sheep following their sheppard.

    April 29, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. Annie, Atlanta

    Good. If nothing else good comes out of AZ's new legistlation, it's that immigration reform has been way long overdue and has just moved to the front burner.

    Come on Congress, you can handle more than one thing at a time. Try working on climate change at the same time because nothing else you do will ever really matter until we get emissions under control and start taking better care of our planet.

    April 29, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. Annie, Atlanta

    John, actually I don't think it would be "cheaper" to send them back. If they make a decent living wage, and pay taxes, it would be cheaper to keep them. They've been here all along. Why not we all finally benefit from them instead of just business owners looking for cheap labor?

    April 29, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
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