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. JB

    This is a long going problem caused by both parties, not just one. It has been on going for years, but now that a single state has decided that someone needs to be enforcing the EXISTING LAWS, we are hearing about "profiling" constanting. I am a former Sergeant in the Army, and I have learned that when you are looking for the "enemy" you look at what types of commonalities there are. You have to know what it is you are looking for before you can find it and do something about it. This law isn't profiling, it is looking for the type that is causing the problem. Plan and simple. I am tired of all of this "political correctness" wording. The ere is a problem, we know what we need to look for and we need to enforce the existing laws. Plan and simple.

    April 29, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  2. Carmelle

    I am an Independent liberal legal immigrant and here are some suggestions:

    1) Calculate how much it will cost to increase border security in a realistic way and divide that by the 10.1 Mill illegals to charge each a fee. Enforced by the IRS, just like for taxes. Have them pay for it, not us.


    2) If option 1 is too hard and impossible to forecast, charge everyone a flat fee of $5K or $10K to help pay for the cost. If that raises more money than the new bill costs – Put it towards the deficit!


    3) In addition to the fee, crack down on the employers. Find the technology to do it. THIS IS AMERICA!

    This will force ppl who don't have the money to leave, and if you are caught still illegal in country after the bill passes: NO MERCY – GO HOME. For business owners, you are facing criminal charges if you are caught with an illegal worker.

    Btw...Why is it always Dems trying to fix problems? You can hate what they do from an ideology perspective, but they sure are earning their salaries. Could you get away at work with what the Republicans have been doing for over a year now, and still keep your job? Where are their solutions?...Real ones.

    April 29, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  3. Felonious Monk

    Sad thing is: you want them here to clean, work and pick your veggies, but when it comes time for you to do something for them you don't want to do anything!

    April 29, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    FYI: Millions of American citizens live and work in Mexico which makes immigration a more complex issue than most people realize and just saying do what Arizona is doing could prove to be very dangerous. Think before speaking negatively about the Governments efforts, it's not just about us living in the U.S. legally.

    April 29, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  5. chill

    Boehner, if we waited until their wasn't a "political boiling pot" in DC, we'd never do anything. I'm all for bipartisanship, but when did you guys decide it wasn't in your best political interest to oppose everything? You're still in the George Bush mode of bipartisanship- 'we'd be glad to let for our bill without changes".

    April 29, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  6. RH

    No illegal alien should be given a path to legal residency without first being held accountable for their crime of illegal entry.

    April 29, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  7. get real

    To the "just send them all back" crowd: it won't be cheaper to send them back. They are working here now, mainly off the books. If we give them an opportunity to work here legally, THEY WILL PAY TAXES!!!!

    April 29, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |

    I am belive that dems will make lots mistake about border so dems will what happened about it so I am agreed john borhemer about imm reform

    April 29, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  9. Carmelle

    To all claiming this will be more voters for Dems and Obama:


    You have to become a citizen and usually, there is a mandatory 5 year waiting period as a legal immigrant before you can QUALIFY to be a citizen. After the 5 yrs, it's up to you if you want to become one. You have to apply and wait to be approved.

    You never had to deal with the system, so fair enough, you don't have to know. But now, if you want to take a stand on the issue, stop being stupid. Educate yourself.

    April 29, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  10. Linda

    There are other solutions to the immigration "problem" than more technology and more border patrol agents and taller, thicker walls. Why can't the US work with Mexico to make things better there? If people had a better chance at a decent life for their children in Mexico, they wouldn't be so desperate to cross into our country by whatever means necessary. Shame on the AZ fascists! While the people of AZ are worried about economic fallout from the growing swell of opposition to this new Draconian law, the Governor just keeps on smiling and pushing this shameful agenda. If enough business owners lose enough business, they'll vote this she-Nazi out. Racial profiling and restriction of movement are un-American and should not be tolerated!

    April 29, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  11. Terry From West Texas

    What the Republicans are saying is that they don't want to take an unpopular stand before elections. If they oppose amnesty and support tough treatment of illegal immigrants, then they lose all hispanic voters and energize their opposition. If they don't oppose amnesty and tough treatment, then they will lose their core.

    Our Republican leadership, of course, believes in nothing except more power for themselves and more wealth for the wealthy, so they don't give a crap about immigration one way or the other. They just use issues like immigration, flag burning, gay marriage, etc. to stir up the hayseeds at election time. If it was up to Conservative, they would eliminate national borders altogether. The fundamental principle of Libertarianism is the free movement of capital and labor across national boundaries.

    April 29, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  12. John

    There will be no support for immigration reform from the "cheap labor at all costs" republicans.

    There can be no immigration reform without employer reform with meaningful penalties for hiring illegals in this country. Try a penalty of 20% of the companies worth for a first offense and watch the illegal immigration problem disappear.

    This will only work if we keep a Democratic administration because we have seen that when the republicans are in charge departments like the Security and Exchange Commission are gutted and industry department heads are put in charge. The republicans only enforce the laws that they like or the ones that benefit their rich sponsors.

    April 29, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. Carmelle

    Did you know: Legal immigrants have social security numbers, so therefore, pay taxes just like any other America....but is not allowed to vote?

    So you tax me, but I have no say on who makes decisions how my money is spent.

    Is that right? You want to see "taxation with no representation?" Ask a legal immigrant.

    April 29, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  14. Love Arizona

    Everyone worries there will be racial profiling in Arizona. Actually, it won't happen at all. Why?

    Because at the time the law is implemented, all illegal immigrants must have gone already. So police will not need to do racial profiling. Easy, isn't it?

    That's why AZ gives 90 days to illegal immigrants out of the state. 90 days are enough for them to pack their belongings and move to other state. Brilliant strategy.

    If all states apply this same law, all illegal immigrants will be out of our country automatically without necessary deporting them which will only cause a lot of money.

    Apply this law state by state and give them 90 days to pack. Believe me, they will be out by themselves.

    April 29, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. Denny

    We already have laws that prohibit foreigners from living here illegally. Enforce the laws! The only change we need is no anchor babies.

    April 29, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  16. hawk1

    I wonder why the republicans are all ways negative on any thing but big buisness, can't they see that they are killing the republican party? they are not for the middle class americans. on for the super rich. it is time for them to go.

    April 29, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  17. Mike in NYC

    There were 10.8 million illegal immigrants in the US back in the early 1980's. The current number is at least twice that.

    It's interesting that a member of Britain's Labour Party recently admitted that expanding their voter base was a major reason for Labour allowing Third World "migrants" to flood into Britain.

    April 29, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  18. walleye

    I have no problem with anyone becoming a US citizen. Instead of legalizing the 10 million illegals, let them study and follow the same procedures my Grandparents & Parents did when they came here for a better life in the 1920's. My dad went to school to learn english, but when the teacher only spoke to him in Turkish – his native tongue, he left and learned our language on his own.

    April 29, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  19. John

    I would like to hear one sound plan for rounding up and sending home 10-12 million illegal immigrants.

    It makes good headlines but, I have not seen any details as to how the country would go about such a thing. The analogy might be the German Nazi Party trying to remove all the Jews from Germany – is this the Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin/Rush Limbaugh republican plan for the Mexican/South American immigrants in this country?

    Let's hear some sound ideas from all the critics of the Obama Administration. All I hear is racists noise and bull crap non-solutions.

    April 29, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  20. vet in TX

    here is the issue, some immigrants who are here illegally have had adult children and even grandchildren who are born citizens just so they can give their kids a better life. Just deporting them like they were supposed to years ago, will cause all kinds of financial, emotional, and pyschological issues. Here is a question: Since the majority of pedophiles are middle aged white men, how would a law abiding white male feel if he were singled out because he fit a description and was asked and checked to see if he was a registered sex offender.........people of color who have for years been profiled understand what this law does, it' allows the police to invade your privacy just for "fitting a description"! Think about this before judgement is rushed to all because of your natural distrust for hispanics. What's the difference in appearance between a white male who is Canadian, French, Russian, or from Nebraska and how can you determine that by just looking at them? Answer that honestly and tell me how that is constitutional.

    April 29, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  21. citizen

    What kind of justice system is this by rewarding the law breakers and punishing the citizen?

    April 29, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  22. Mesa Mick

    Well, ast least it's a start and trying to heal this scab.

    However, in fairness to all we must first make the distincion between "Undocumented Workers" – those just here to make some bucks doing the stoop labor type of jobs and then go back to their home country and the "Illegal Immigrents" – those who want to live in the US but don't want to wait or haven't waited in line.

    Fixing the first group should be fairly easy, temporary work visas etc. The second – not so much because the drama queens on both sides will be out in force bleating and braying bumper sticker slogans to muddy up with inflamatory, hyperbolic rhetoric what is already a really hard problem to work thru...

    April 29, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  23. shooter

    Deport the illegal aliens and deport those who supported them.

    April 29, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  24. Paula

    I wouldn't trust Reid, Shumer and Menedez if I were Illegal. They are already lying about what they are trying to do. There are over 20 million illegals aliens in this country and that's not counting their anchor babies.

    90% are of Hispanic there are only 250,000 Haitians here. Seal the border, CLOSE DOWN BUSINESS WHO HIRE ILLEGALS, than SEND THE 20+ PACKING ALONG WITH THEIR CHILDREN WHO ARE NOT AMERICANS.

    No, we do not have to give special privileges to those who do not have a criminal background, first of all, HOW DO YOU KNOW THEY DON'T HAVE A CRIMINAL BACKGROUND YOU ARE ONLY GOING ACCORDING TO THE CRIMES THEY COMMIT HERE.

    If they are here illegally SEND THEM HOME, YESTERDAY.

    April 29, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. Enough

    It's called AMNESTY.........plain and simple, invite them in and sign them up for all the welfare they need to support their families..........after all it would be millions more Democratic voters. The Democratic party is no longer the party of the working class, they have become the party of the Welfare bunch.

    April 29, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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