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. Ancient Texan

    The Democrats bill could consist of only ONE word. AMNESTY!. The 10.8 million illegals (some guess as high as 24 million) could immediately vote in the next presidential election. Arizona has it right!!!

    April 29, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. one voice

    Why are the Democrats doing all the heavy lifting while the GOP just sit on their thumbs? ANSWER: The GOP don't care about the Average Americans. The GOP are in bed with big oil and the wall street fat cats.

    April 29, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  3. Crop

    If we want to be like Europe i.e. our fancy new healthcare laws, then we should treat illegal immigrants the same way. You would detained if you didn t have a passport or possible shot if you tried to enter certain countries illegally.

    April 29, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  4. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Bring it on! A bill that's guaranteed not to pass, and brought forward only in an effort to save Harry Reid. More ammo (particularly the hugely unpopular amnesty proposal) to use this November against the Dems. Remember November.

    April 29, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  5. T'SAH from Virginia

    BOEHNER QUOTES: "But you can't do immigration reform in the middle of a boiling political pot here in Washington DC..."

    It's called 'Multi-Tasking' – an attribute almost ALL Employers expect from their Employees!!!! If WE can do it – YOU can do it!!! It's also called "chewing gum and walking at the same time."

    And how dare you say "...you can't do it without serious bipartisan conversations and bipartisan discussions..." YOU meaning you and the other RepubliCAN'Ts were not about 'bipartisan' from DAY 1 – remember 'waterloo"???????????? Man, you guys make me SICK!!!

    April 29, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  6. stevegee

    Close the borders, and deport all the illegals! They don't pay income taxes, and they siphon off government services intended for legal citizens. Better yet, deport the Democrats too!

    April 29, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. Ferret out the BS

    When does Representative Boehner feel the political climate will be cool enough to debate the issues, when there is a Republican Majority? The chance was there 2 years ago but immigration was sidelined then. Representative Boehner you're full of S_ _ T, all you want to do is obstruct and be part of tthe problem. Congress needs to be the solution and it requires you and your party to be a part of that solution for the good of this country. Compromise and a meeting of minds and ideologies gets things done in a manner that is acceptable to all sides. Grow up and participate like someone that actually has America's interests at heart.

    April 29, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. deb0155

    I agree with Henry Miller, Libertarian! There is no way the Democrats would give anyone anything in this country unless they had a huge pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! The Democrats are chomping at the bit to get these illegals legalized so they all can run rampant and drain the country even more!

    April 29, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. Señora López

    It's about time! Republicans would be wise to sit down and work on a bipartisan solution so that they can have some of their concerns addressed, but I hope the Democrats are brave enough to leave the Republicans behind and pass CIR regardless of whether they cooperate or not.

    Whichever side of the political fence you fall on, no one can deny that immigration is an issue that must be dealt with. You can't ignore it and hope it will go away. It's time to find solutions which will make sure people are treated humanely and with compassion, while also benefiting and protecting our nation.

    Here's to hoping our politicians can work together for once.

    April 29, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  10. Jaybally

    Supply and Demand ! The Demand has been and continues from the U.S.; This has been the problem all along! However, the U.S. can do no wrong, fails to take reponsibility for its "Hop Heads" , ready to blame Mexico and Others for the prevailing "Drug Habit"; Immigration,etc.
    Mexico and Others are the willing suppliers because it involves INCOME ! Income that does not involve "Wall Street, Goldman , S.E.C" etc.; just plain over the counter, Income !
    So there you have Congress, off your bottoms, and take responibility with out going to "war" on the sign of a sneeze !

    April 29, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  11. GL

    T'SAH from Virginia April 29th, 2010 12:36 pm ET

    "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 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  12. PHC

    People who are in this country ILLEGALLY are criminals and should be deported. I don't have any problem at all with people who immigrate legally.

    When amnisty was granted in the 1980's, there were only about 3 million illegal immigrants. Since then, it's now grown to an estimated 10.8. Twenty years from now, will it be 20 million when it's proposed again?

    April 29, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  13. IndependentAmerican

    There are a lot of lies, misinformation and ignorance about the Immigration issue. The vast majority of undocumented immigrants are not criminals. They are here because they are desperate to provide for their families.

    Sure, there are criminals. What about the Russian mafia? The Italian mafia who terrorized the East coast cities during the 20's through the 60's? When the Irish immigrants came to the U.S., they were treated horribly! When the Italian immigrants arrived, they were told they were not white! READ history and you will see that in America we have a long, long history of treating our legal and illegal immigrants poorly.

    Secure our borders, yes! But also treat people with fairness and justice. THIS IS STILL THE LAND OF FREEDOM AND JUSTICE! How America decides to treat the "least of these" will be the measure by which America is judged by God.

    And YES, Latinos voted Democratic in 2008........... and WE WILL IN 2010! ALSO, keep in mind that in order to register to vote we must show PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP!

    April 29, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. John in MN

    "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," HOW CAN THIS BE BIPARTISAN and an INVITATION to Republicans??? Please look at these issues seperately (1) Border control and (2) citizenship with seperate bills to vote on.

    April 29, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. notfooledbydistractions

    Good job Dems. You know the republicans would never voluntarily touch the issue of immigration. They've played strongly to their base that "wants THEIR country back" and they've painted themselves into a corner. Whites only rule would apply if they wrote the legislation. They also tend to react with bravado and not brains, hence the AZ legislation. That just won't work in todays America – it's not lilly white America anymore and they refuse to accept it. There's reasonable solutions out there, but I strongly doubt republicans will be the ones leading us to it.

    The party of no is actually the party of do nothing, results matter, and they've been failing miserably.

    April 29, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |

    The Dems and everyone else in this great country should know by now that the Republicans will be against anything and everything that the Dems propose, even when the Rethuds write it, if the Dems agree with it, then the Rethugs vote against their own amendment. All the Republicans are doing is playing politics, isn't it about time that they grew up and do the job they were elected to do. Yes it takes a little work, I know it's much easier just to say know without your own ideas or plans. That's exactly why the GOP and the Tea Baggers will go down in flames in November. The American people have caught on to your games.

    In NOvember, Vote NO to the party of NO.

    April 29, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  17. Dems still do not get it

    Dems still do not get it.

    You have 30 million illegals in this country getting benefits – aid – and services for ZERO It is being funded by hard working middle American families. FIX this problem. For starters, the federal Government should adopt the type of proposal just submitted by a young MA Republican - requiring proof of legal status BEFORE any aid – welfare – subsidized housing- health care – soecial ed – or any state or federally funded benefits are given to anyone....If you are illegal, you do not reap the benefits of citizenship.

    The IRS should also stop harassing middle americans and start collecting taxes form the 30 million illegals working under the table and paying NADA

    As for the border security - This is a Democratic disgrace. Protect the US and more importantly secure the border to protect the citizens of the border states

    April 29, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  18. DeFelonious Monk all wet

    When President george Bush proposed immigration reform, it fell on deaf ears on the Democratic controlled Congress. And Mr Monk the democratic party has controlled the House for 36 of the past 40 years with a majority it is the Dems that are the real party of NO

    April 29, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. Rick in OP

    The mainstream media has been sitting on the real story about what is now going on in Mexico. Read the El Paso Times online edition to get an accurate picture of the war going on at the border with the U.S. and Mexico. On Wednesday (yesterday) twenty people were killed in Ciudad Jaurez in a 24-hour period. Forty have been killed since last Monday. Over 5,000 people have been murdered in Juarez since the beginning of 2008. Jaurez lies directly across the border from El Paso, Texas.

    What is now occurring in Mexico rivals Iraq during 2006-2007 without the car bombs and IEDs (so far). This is the reason Arizona went to the extraordinary step of passing the immigration enforcement law.

    April 29, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  20. sensible Cape Coral Fl

    The only ones who have a right to complain about immigration are the American Indians.

    How many of you Hyper Patriots came from immigrant roots? Those roots are what has made our country so great !

    April 29, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  21. mamacoo

    txkboy: April 29th, 2010 12:45 pm ET

    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.

    You do realize that we are 15 months into the Obama administration ? For the past 14 months Republicans/conservatives/right wing /tea partiers/Obama haters have been whining that the President was doing to much, now you say he hasn't done enough ? This has been an ongoing problem and the previous administration did what during its eight years? Now all of a sudden it is a crisis and it is all President Obama's fault? Oh, and by the way, it won't be Democrats holding up immigration reform. Republicans have already come out and said that they didn't want to deal with it. And yes, the question is, why hasn't Arizona enforced their laws that are already on the books?

    April 29, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  22. Charles from Austin Tx

    OK, we can't round 'em all up and ship them back, but we sure as hell can keep them from voting...after all they came here illegaly. There should be some form of punishment. If not, you can bet we'll have a one party system from now on...a socialist/marxist, high tax democrat party. Another thing, if they are going to be allowed to stay, then they should be reqiured to "speaka de english". Make it illegal to post signs or advertise in spanish...get them into the language of the US...ENGLISH by ceasinging to pander to thier laziness to learn the languae that unifies the US/American culture...English. Companies and organizations that continue to pander they way they do now should be charged with a crime.

    April 29, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |

    REID, there is no one going to help you legalize gangsters. People who enter this country illegally and not like our forefathers did, are crooks. I am not a Republican, but used to be a Democrat for fifty years. No more after I realized where this party was going. it is too full of homosexuals, anti-Christians and plain old crooks willing to make money and votes off these illegals just as a means to an end. You do what you will BUT I GUARANTEE WE WILL DO WHAT WE INTEND TO DO COME NOVEMBER AND THAT IS TO VOTE YOU GANGSTERS AND ANTI-CHRISTS OUT OF OFFICE.

    April 29, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  24. BILL, WI

    The problem is not with illegal immigration. Nor is it with any US political party. It is not with the laws the federal govt has covering immigration and illegal immigration, but the enforcement of those laws. But the main problem is south of the border when the govt of Mexico actively encourages its poorer citizens to leave the country and go to the US violating our laws. Mexico uses the US as a scapegoat for the failings of Mexico's own domestic policies.

    April 29, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  25. ran

    Unless they go after the employers who hire illegals nothing will change. Also we tried amnesty and look were it took us. 10 to 20 years from now we will be in the same boat because illegals will say just wait them out and they (USA) will give in.

    No to any amnesty this time. Fool me once shame on me try and fool me twice shame on you.

    April 29, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
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