In a rare instance of bipartisan cooperation, eight U.S. senators yesterday unveiled a proposal to overhaul the country’s immigration system that includes a framework for illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S. to apply for a green card.
The proposal, drafted by four Democrats and four Republicans, was released a day ahead of a scheduled immigration policy speech by President Barack Obama today in Las Vegas.
The so-called “Gang of Eight” called for new enforcement measures, including a more effective employment verification system and the completion of an entry-exit system that tracks whether individuals entering the U.S. on temporary work visas leave when their visas expire; for a process by which illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. could meet a series of requirements and ultimately be allowed to apply for a green card; and for an immigration system that better recognizes the need for highly skilled and educated individuals to bolster the country’s current workforce.
The senators noted that immigrants currently living in the U.S. illegally, with the exceptions of those who were brought to the U.S. as minors and those who work within the U.S. agricultural industry, would only be permitted to apply for a green card after every individual who is already waiting in line for a green card.
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, a Greenwich Democrat, applauded the proposal to fix what he called a “broken immigration system.”
“While there is still work left to be done, I am encouraged by this progress and see today’s announcement as a sign that Republicans and Democrats can and will work together to get the job done – even on one of the toughest and most emotional of issues,” Himes said in a Jan. 28 statement.