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Senators Present Sweeping Immigration Reform Plan

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On Monday a bipartisan group of eight senators presented to Congress a preliminary plan to overhaul the nation's immigration system and ease the path to citizenship for immigrants in the United States.   If put into legislation and passed, the ambitious plan could change the lives of over 11 million immigrants that reside in the United States without legal status, more than half of which identify as Hispanic or Latino.

There are four main components of the plan:

1. Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;

2. Reform the legal immigration system to include measures that will attract skilled workers and strengthen families;

3. Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and,

4. Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation's workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.

The "Group of Eight" senators– which includes Democrats Michael Bennet of Colorado, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Charles Schumer of New York, and Republicans John McCain and Jeff Flake from Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida– call their plan “tough, but fair.”  But many Repubilcans are ambivalent about it, while some openly opposed it, calling it “amnesty."

President Obama expressed his support for the Senators' plan in Las Vegas on Tuesday, calling it a sign of progress in Congress.   Earlier in January the President announced that immigration reform would be a priority for his administration's second term, stating at his inauguration that America must "find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity."  On Tuesday in Las Vegas President Obama threatened to put forward his own legislation if Congress fails to act quickly to support the Senators' plan.

 

While immigration reform has returned to the political spotlight, millions of immigrants have been waiting for years to be able to gain legal status in the country they call home.  Supporters of the Dream Act, a vital component of immigration reform first proposed by Sen. Orin Hatch of Utah and Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois in 2001, have been fighting for over a decade to enact the legislation.  Support for the Dream Act has gained momentum as 12 states including California, Texas, and Maryland, have passed similar versions of the bill.  In the process, more and more individuals have stepped forward to reveal their non-legal status, and have joined themselves to other individuals and organizations to build momentum for reform.    These brave individuals found power within and among themselves to make a statement and build momentum for their cause rather than simply relying on those in political power to enact changes. Thanks to their efforts, those that consider themselves American at heart may now have the opportunity to realize their own potential as citizens.

 

To support a roadmap to citizenship for immigrants, especially those who came to the United States as children, sign the CREDO action petition,  the SignOn petition, and/or the DreamIsNow petition, started by Steve Jobs' widow Laurene Powell Jobs.

 

Here is the powerful video that launched the Dream Is Now: