Video: US senators unveil immigration reform deal

A bipartisan group of influential US Senators yesterday agreed to a framework of sweeping reform of immigration laws to attract the “world’s best and brightest” and include a tough and fair path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.

The White House welcomed the agreement reached on immigration reform by the bi-partisan group of eight influential Senators.

“The President welcomes the efforts by the bipartisan group in the Senate to put forward principles on the need for comprehensive immigration reform, principles that mirror the President’s blueprint, which he has been pressing for some time,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

“The President believes that it’s very important that we move forward on comprehensive immigration reform. It’s the right thing to do for the country, for our economy,” Carney said.

Senate’s top-ranking Democratic leaders, Dick Durbin and Charles Schumer; and Senate’s two leading Republican authorities on immigration reform, Marco Rubio and John McCain have signed on to this immigration deal. Four other Senators are in agreement over the framework.

“The United States must do a better job of attracting and keeping the world’s best and brightest. As such, our immigration proposal will award a green card to immigrants who have received a PhD or Master’s degree in science, technology, engineering, or math from an American university,” the Senators wrote in the introduction to their five-page framework.

“It makes no sense to educate the world’s future innovators and entrepreneurs only to ultimately force them to leave our country at the moment they are most able to contribute to our economy,” the Senators said.

Recognising that their immigration system is broken, the Senators said while border security has improved significantly over the last two Administrations, they still don’t have a functioning immigration system.

This has created a situation where up to 11 million undocumented immigrants are living in the shadows, they noted.

“Our legislation acknowledges these realities by finally committing the resources needed to secure the border, modernise and streamline our current legal immigration system, while creating a tough but fair legalisation programme for individuals who are currently here. We will ensure that this is a successful permanent reform to our immigration system that will not need to be revisited,” the Senators said.

Immigration reforms to strengthen US economy

Obama is scheduled to announce his vision for a comprehensive immigration reform in Las Vegas tomorrow.

“Our new immigration system must be more focused on recognising the important characteristics which will help build the American economy and strengthen American families,” the Senators said.

“Additionally, we must reduce backlogs in the family and employment visa categories so that future immigrants view our future legal immigration system as the exclusive means for entry into the United States,” they said.

“This is a big deal. This is an important development.

This is in keeping with the principles the president has been espousing for a long time, in keeping with bipartisan efforts in the past and with the effort this president believes has to end in a law that he can sign,” Carney said in response to a question.

Carney said this is the right thing to do out of fairness to the middle class to make sure that everyone play by the same set of rules.

“The President is travelling to Nevada tomorrow, where he will continue a conversation with the American people how we need to move forward and why we need to move forward with comprehensive immigration reform, why it’s important,” he said.

“It’s something that he talked about a lot during the campaign. He campaigned on this. And it is something that he has spoken about quite frequently since his re-election and made clear his commitment to act on this early in his second term. It’s now the second week of his second term, and he is acting on it,” Carney said.

No more delays in reform

Carney said there is no reason to delay on moving forward with this.

“The President has supported it for a long time. It fell short in 2010 because of congressional opposition to it. And he believes that we are at a moment now where there seems to be support coalescing at a bipartisan level behind the very principles that he has long put forward and behind principles that have in the past enjoyed bipartisan support, that appear now again to be winning bipartisan support, and that is a very positive thing,” the White House Press Secretary said.

“When it comes to border security, anyone who looks at this honestly will note the tremendous strides we have made in the past four years in protecting our borders. In fact, they have never been better enforced than they are now,” Carney said.

“Over the past four years, this administration has dedicated unprecedented resources to secure the border, taken important steps to make interior and worksite enforcement of our immigration laws smarter and more effective,” he said.

“We have made historic investments in manpower, technology and infrastructure to help secure our borders. Our borders now are more secure than they have ever been in history. That works continues,” he said.

(This article was published on January 29, 2013)
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