Apr 6 2006
Senate May Have a Compromise Immigration Bill
It appears that the U.S. Senate is coming close to breaking the stalemate on
immigration reform that has held them up for the past few weeks. A recently
proposed compromise bill would adopt a more restrictive approach to the
roughly 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. than originally
proposed in the McCain/Kennedy bill. The compromise bill, which was proposed
by Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Mel Martinez (R-FL), would split the 11 million
illegal immigrants into 3 different groups and each would have their own path
to legal status.
In the compromise bill, illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for more
than 5 years (roughly 2/3 of the total illegal population) would be able to
become legal residents of the U.S. without having to leave the country, as
long as they met eight requirements, including speaking English, having worked
in the U.S. for at least 3 of the last 5 years and having paid all federal and
state taxes during their illegal residency.
Illegal immigrants in the U.S. for between 2 and 5 years would be able to
obtain a temporary work visa, but would have to leave the U.S. to obtain that
visa. These immigrants would be able to apply for legal status later and would
have priority over other immigrants applying for green cards.
Finally, illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for less than 2 years
would have to return to their home country and apply for a temporary work
Senate majority leader Bill Frist (R-TN) believes the compromise proposal is a
“negotiated middle ground … put on the table which says that these 11 million
people who are here, undocumented people, illegal immigrants, are not a
Many in the Senate are worried that if a bill is not passed by the end of the
week, it could cause further disenchantment in the U.S. Hispanic community.
There have already been numerous major protests and rallies in the country and
tens of thousands of high school students have walked out of their classes in
response to anti-immigration sentiments in the U.S. government. More than
500,000 people protested in Los Angeles last month, more than have ever
protested in that city’s long history.