April 29th, 2010
03:12 PM ET
11 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. Cynthia

    Perhaps Congress should have tackled this issue before they passed that ridiculous health care bill.

    I have been wondering why they would not address that considering how many illegal immigrants are here.

    If they pass some sort of amnesty, how will that affect this new health care bill????

    April 29, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  2. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    "The draft proposal also includes a process to legalize an estimated 10.8 million illegal immigrants in the U.S."

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

    April 29, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    No matter what changes are made, there are going to be people who call it a bad deal. I personally think that we need a more solid physical boarder along the boarder with Mexico while developing a technological one that can replace it later on so that wildlife is affected by political boarders.

    As for those that are here, we do need to work out some way for those that don't have criminal records from their home country (or wanted by some other country) a legal way to work here. I am advocating that they illegal adults be only granted permanant resident status at best. They came here illegally and should pay a price. Their children who had little choice in the matter should have a different options since they were not able to consent to this action.

    April 29, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  4. Darko

    Increasing all those assets does nothing if they are handcuffed from enforcing the law as they currently are.

    Arizona has it right. They basically copied the federal statute that's been in place for decades ... only they actually plan to enforce it.

    April 29, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. T'SAH from Virginia

    "The draft proposal also includes a process to legalize an estimated 10.8 million illegal immigrants in the U.S."

    This will push the REPUBS into a corner.

    "Meanwhile, House Minority Leader John Boehner said Thursday now is not the right time to take up immigration reform."

    The Republicans started the FIGHT by passing the law in AZ!!! Now, in my opinion, is the time to FINISH IT!!!

    The Republicans passed the law in an attempt to gain more votes; therefore it was a 'political' move!!! Now, they're trying to say Reid is going to use the same situation for 'political gain'... What's good for the goose is good for the gander!!!

    April 29, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Shut up Bonehead. Do your job and govern. You were not elected to say no we can't. The majority in this country says YES WE CAN!

    April 29, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  7. Givemeabreak!!!

    We ought to have an immigration reform plan move through Congress," the Ohio Republican told reporters. "But you can't do immigration reform in the middle of a boiling political pot here in Washington DC and secondly you can't do it without serious bipartisan conversations and bipartisan discussions...There is not a chance that immigration is going to move through the Congress."

    In other words, no one doesn't intend to do anything except stall. And all the while, we the taxpayers, are paying for medical care, welfare, medicaid, and schooling for people who are here illegally.

    Don't you just love our "elected representatives" who are supposed to be working FOR the American people ?? Seems to me they believe we sent them to Washington to work "against" us.

    April 29, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. John

    The draft proposal also includes a process to legalize an estimated 10.8 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.

    Be cheeper to send them back

    April 29, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Stacie

    Did everyone hear Boehner's comments? He's signaling that (no surprise here) the Republicans won't work on this because the climate in Washington is so politically charged and that he thinks this is rushed....Seriously? How long have we been talking about and working on immigration reform? Let me give you a hint...not quite as long as health care reform but long before the financial crisis hit. Also, as one of the people creating the bad climate in Washington, he can't cite it as a reason not to work on a very important issue. How about you start playing well with others Minority Leader Boehner, then you may be able to get some things done!

    April 29, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  10. g ontario

    the republicans act like illegal immigrants started yesterday they forget it all started, 30 yrs.ago when there buisness buddieswanted cheap, no union,no benifits,labour, when they sent flyers to mexico telling these people to come to the united states

    April 29, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. txkboy

    Now the Democrats and administration want to do something, to counteract Arizona's move. Too little, too late. Best case, they will get it wrong, instead of just enforcing the immigration laws already on the books.

    April 29, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  12. Hows that oil slick coming along drillers?

    This should be fun after years of both parties turning a blind eye to the problem for financial gain,both for big business and the underground economy of drug sales.

    April 29, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  13. Felonious Monk

    The dems have bent over backwards to involve the republicans, but the republicans will have nothing to do with bipartisan legislation. It's their way or the highway, and that is not democracy.

    Grow up you conservatives! Be adults about democracy!

    April 29, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  14. moondrop

    Send them back they are draining our country. sneaking across the border.

    April 29, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  15. STEVE R

    all this election and re-election stuff is just dumb...............

    do they not realize illegals cant vote...or at least they are not allowed to

    not like we enforce any laws in this country anyhow

    bunch of bone heads

    April 29, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  16. It's political

    Not everything is partisan.

    April 29, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  17. Line Jumpers?

    What happens to people who jump ahead of the line at a concert ticket shop?

    April 29, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  18. Duck Fallas

    Stop hiring them, they'll stop coming.

    Gotta love the obstructionist strategy. Keep it up.

    April 29, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  19. PalmReader

    Meanwhile, House Minority Leader John Boehner said Thursday now is not the right time to take up immigration reform.

    When has there EVER been a good time for the GOPers to take up ANY legislation? *Now* wasn't a good time for Health Care. *Now* isn't a good time for Financial Reform. *Now* isn't a good time for Climate Change. *Now* isn't a good time for Immigration Reform.

    And this only includes the past two years of *now isn't a good time to* . . .

    Immigration Reform has been needed for, oh, at least 30 years, and yet, *now*, has NEVER been quite the right time for the GOPers.

    April 29, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  20. Michael from Ventura

    The gop will not go there during this election year- We need gridlock to end in Washington so things can get done!

    April 29, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  21. Rickster

    Nice story with this little afterthought tagged on the end:

    "The draft proposal also includes a process to legalize an estimated 10.8 million illegal immigrants in the U.S."

    Once again the democrats want to reward lawbreakers who are causing havoc on our economy by soaking up entitlements, overwhelming our hospitals, courts and prison systems.......oh wait, those are just typical democrats. No wonder they are all for it.

    April 29, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    my white friends this immigration sublect is all about a white america, yes, it is.. no disrespect to any white people but this is the truth........ it so ironic that the natives, the real american has nothing to say here but the white people who stole this country away from them has all the saying, this is nothing more than profiling the colour people.

    April 29, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. ART

    First , there is nothing ridiculous about the healthcare bill and at least the Democrats are tackling problems that have escaped the Republicans for what ever reason. Now lets just see how the GOP is going to try to stop this legislation and any other. Also legalizing 10.8 million hard working emigrants does not give them the right to vote,why don't people think before they they post retarded comments

    April 29, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  24. Dano

    IF all illegals could somehow be rounded up and sent back to their home countries, Americans would be shocked and outraged to find that the price of produce, hotel stays, landscaping & construction would skyrocket due to a lack of cheap labor. These industries can get away with a lot more abuse of illegals than they can with American citizens, if they can even find Americans willing to do many of these low paying jobs. I'm not saying I'm not for a crackdown on illegal immigration, I just want everyone to be prepared for the inevitable consequences of these actions.

    April 29, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  25. Felonious Monk

    What does an illegal immegrant look like?

    April 29, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
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