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Pretty big news out of DC tonight, as a bipartisan gang of eight reached an agreement on an outline for a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate.  As always, the devil will be in the details, but for once, it appears as if something accomplished by one of these bipartisan "gangs" doesn't suck.

The group will fully unveil their plan Monday afternoon (in a clear attempt to try to steal some of the limelight from the President, who is releasing his plan on Tuesday).  They shared an advance copy of their plan with Politico, and here's what we know so far:

There would be a pathway to citizenship for nearly 11 million people here in this country with undocumented status.  However, that pathway would be dependent on so far undefined "stricter border enforcement measures and new rules ensuring immigrants have left the country in compliance with their visas."

The plan would include the Dream Act, creating an expedited path for citizenship for children brought here illegally.

The plan would also create an expedited path to citizenship for seasonal farm workers.

An overhaul to the legal immigration system to attract highly skilled technical workers, as well as seasonal agriculture workers.

As expected, there will also be tougher enforcement mechanisms to ensure that employers are hiring legally.

The biggest concern to watch out for is what appears to be some sort of trigger mechanism in order to allow immigrants to pursue a path to citizenship.  Here's what Politico has on that so far:

Before a pathway to citizenship can happen, the group says that new border security measures first must take effect, including an increase in the number of unmanned aerial vehicles and agents at the border, new rules tracking people entering the country on temporary visas and the creation of a commission of southwestern political and community leaders to ensure the new enforcement mechanisms take effect.
The devils will clearly be in the details when this provision is drawn up.  I think most of us have come to accept that in order to get comprehensive immigration reform, we are going to have to give the right some form of border militarization.  I'm weary of what exactly a " commission of southwestern political and community leaders to ensure the new enforcement mechanisms take effect" is.

Assuming the path to citizenship takes effect, here is what that pathway would look like:

As those security measures take effect, the proposal says, illegal immigrants would be forced to register with the government, undergo a background check, and pay a fine and back taxes so they can obtain a legal status on a probationary basis. That would allow them to live and work legally in the United States, unless they have committed serious crimes, which could subject them to deportation. Those who have obtained probationary legal status would not be allowed to access federal benefits.

After the enforcement measures take effect, those who have obtained their probationary legal status would be required to undergo a series of requirements — including learning English and civics and undergoing further background checks — before being able to obtain permanent residency. The proposal insists that those who have entered the country illegally would not get preferential treatment over legal immigrants playing by the rules.

The only exceptions would be made for seasonal agricultural workers as well as young individuals who unknowingly entered the country illegally as children in a move similar to the DREAM Act proposal that has stalled in Congress for years.

A lot still needs to be worked out, but think about how far we've come. Due to the thumping that the Republican party has taken with Hispanics the last two elections, we're having a discussion that looked unthinkable six months ago: Republican leaders are discussing how to create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

The "Gang of Eight members include:

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO)
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

I'll update this diary with more information as I get it, as well as reactions from CIR advocates.

UPDATE: I read over the whole outline, and have some additional observations:

Temporary legal status would be available immediately for undocumented immigrants. They wouldn't have to wait until after the triggers take effect.  The triggers only take effect in order to earn a green card. So they would be protected from deportation while the triggers support themselves out.

Green cards will only be issued to (non-dreamers) undocumented immigrants after all legal immigrants clear the cue, who are in line once the bill is passed.  Does anyone know how long it would take the cue of current individuals waiting to all get a green card?

Individuals eligible for the Dream Act would not have to face the same waits and fines that other undocumented immigrants would.  It would be unclear if the Dream Act would take effect immediately or after the triggers are completed.

Agricultural workers will not be subject to the same requirements as other undocumented immigrants and will be handled through a separate process. What this process entails has not been laid out yet.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It probably could pass the Senate (11+ / 0-)

    but I have to wonder about the House.   I suppose Boehner might have to rely on the Democrats to help him pass it.   I would have to see details, but it looks like it could be a good plan.

    I agree with President Obama, our country's journey is not yet complete. We must continue the work that our forebearers at Seneca Falls started, and put the Equal Rights Amendment into our Constitution.

    by pistolSO on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 10:27:39 PM PST

    •  I think if it passes the Senate (16+ / 0-)

      There will tremendous pressure on the House to do something, or else they go into 2014 with Hispanic voters knowing that they're what stands in the way of immigration reform.

      Paul Ryan has already given some indication that he would support a bill like this.  

      I think the House will pass immigration reform.  The bigger question is what sort of poison pill amendments they try to attach to it.

      •  In light of this potential deal on immigration... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rolet, grrr

        I believe it will be our solemn duty during the next two years and beyond to continuously remind voters (especially of Hispanic parentage...)

        There will tremendous pressure on the House to do something, or else they go into 2014 with Hispanic voters knowing that they're what stands in the way of immigration reform.
        ... that the Republican party had to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing something on this issue, and that the ONLY reason they're doing it now is because of the fact that they lost the Hispanic vote by such a lopsided margin.

        In other words, for Republicans, immigration reform is not something they want to do because it's the humane or egalitarian thing to do. They're not doing this for the benefit of the country.

        It's just politically advantageous for them to do so.

        "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history." ~ Aldous Huxley

        by markthshark on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 04:04:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  If it passes the Senate by a significant margin, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jeff Y, radarlady, rolet

      smth similar will pass the House.

    •  The racist Republican party has a big decision (4+ / 0-)

      to make now. They can join the rest of us out here in the 21st century and help pass a sane Immigration bill. Or, they can become a permanent minority party that can't win elections anywhere outside of the South.

      "I'm so happy 'cause today I found my friends, they're in my head. Light my candles, in a daze 'cause I found god." - Kurt Cobain

      by Jeff Y on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 12:01:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow. And this comes out on a Sunday? color me (8+ / 0-)

    confused but cautiously optimistic!

    "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

    by MRA NY on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 10:29:09 PM PST

  •  Yeah, devil is in the details, as you say (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Trix, greenchiledem, FG, smash artist, rolet, grrr

    but it seems okay to me, with the exception of that commission. Again, depends on the details, but doesnt seem pragmatic and workable.

  •  Hmmm, (6+ / 0-)

    Some good measures there, but it doesn't sound like they are going to include measures to allow people to sponsor their same sex partners, which is a huge problem.

                                     Just my two cents,

    Torture is ALWAYS wrong, no matter who is inflicting it on whom.

    by Chacounne on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 10:41:49 PM PST

  •  This is great news... (5+ / 0-)

    for John McCain!

  •  Thanks for the details. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mother Mags

    I saw a Facebook note earlier tonight but didn't have any detail.  Good start.  

    "There is only one force in the nation that can be depended upon to keep the government pure and the governors honest, and that is the people themselves.-Thomas Jefferson

    by greenchiledem on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 10:59:41 PM PST

  •  I would never trust a thing with McCain, Graham (10+ / 0-)

    and Rubio's name on it or anything supported by two Senators from AZ, ground zero for anti-immigrant legislation.

    •  You have to let Nixon go to China (0+ / 0-)

      rather than LBJ.  What are small accomplishments on liberal CVs are large ones on conservatives'.

      Peace treaties aren't usually made or signed by the leaders of the peaceable and decent people on each side, either.  They're made and signed by leaders of the war factions.

      The U.S. Senate is the part of federal government responsible for casting the answers to large social questions into law.  As representatives of the society in question they tend to represent in their arena not only the good but also the ugly side of The People and its best arguments.

      I'm just glad that it looks as if a problem involving 11-12 million people that has been the obsession of the pettiest and cruelest Americans is finally succumbing to the only answer compatible with decency.  Sure, it's ugly and defective and petty and difficult.  But if it gives 10 million of these folks a way out of their legal status cul-de-sac and some choices and ends the everyday dread and fatalism they live in, that's significant.

      If meaningfully implemented, in five years the problem as we know it will be gone.  Sure there will be messes remaining, but they'll be a lot smaller in human scale.  Immigration is inherently an arbitrary and stupid and uncertain business.  

  •  Isn't it interesting that those who cuss out O (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    are nevertheless wlling to race ahead of his announcement by one day in order to make sure he gets no credit if they can. Well, to me, this is in its own way certainy something for which he will get credit since it will be getting done this term on his instigation, although not the usual sort and sets down a baseline for the R position which is less favorable to Know Nothings than they will like, esp. as to budget for all this. We will also see if the two proposals can be reconciled. I can already see a problem in favoring measures (Do I hear oink oink with spices here) as to the SW rather than all borders, since that only moves the routes to states like mine.

  •  I'm already not happy. (7+ / 0-)

    Some twitter reactions:

    hmmm.. “@JuanSaaa: Way to empower Jan Brewer! RT @raylab: "southwest border leaders" would get to basically say "when" to give green cards”
    So in this blueprint, the ability to apply for a green card is contingent on 'completion' of border security? Give me a break.

    It's time to unfrack California before it gets fracked. @RL_Miller

    by RLMiller on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 11:20:20 PM PST

  •  Actually, it's not so bad assuming their triggers (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mother Mags, smash artist, theboz, rolet

    are not completely insane.

    •  That's one of the known unknowns, isn't it? (5+ / 0-)

      Who gets to say when the trigger has been pulled, or will the anti-reform forces keep doing what they're already doing—calling for "border security" before anything happens? Shit, immigration is already at net zero, maybe less, but Jan Brewer and her happy gang of nativists keep screaming that Obama's not protecting us, even though he's sent a lot more patrols and money to the border than Bush ever did. What will satisfy them (this commission) is the question.

      stay together / learn the flowers / go light - Gary Snyder

      by Mother Mags on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 11:30:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Bush sounded reasonable on immigration (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      until we got down to details.

      He offered almost exactly the same "broad outlines".

      "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

      by JesseCW on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 12:22:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In his case the immigrants had to go back to (0+ / 0-)

        their home countries. That was a non-starter. And really, if some decent version of immigration bill could pass in 2007 it wouldn't have been that bad. At least people would have been legalized 5 years earlier.

  •  be happy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevenaxelrod, slothlax

    the certification is basically kabucki for GOPers to claim they didn't vote for direct"amnesty". The fact that we are discussing the details of how citizenship happens is a huge step to get GOP backing. We get the Dream act immediately  and a quasi legal status for everyone else  instantly as well.

    After Obama's eighth straight victory, Penn told reporters: "Winning Democratic primaries is not a qualification or a sign of who can win the general election.

    by nevadadem on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 11:44:49 PM PST

  •  Dick Durbin (1+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    smash artist

    The H-1B provisions of in this draft proposal are almost certain to face opposition from Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), both of whom are on the Senate immigration subcommittee with Hatch, where immigration bills are vetted.
    So Dick Durbin only likes immigrants who come illegally.
    •  Um. Dick Durbin Drafted this Proposal (5+ / 0-)

      Which would appear to have some H-1B support.

      Many have concerns about H-1Bs not because "they only like immigrants who come illegally," but because they're used as a tool to exploit foreign workers into working for less and in poor conditions.

      •  H-1B is used to bypass the U.S. workforce. (2+ / 0-)

        This is what should be the main concern for elected representatives.  

        The Economic Policy Institute shows that there are more workers than jobs in EVERY field.

        How any elected official can argue that flooding the market  with even more workers is a good thing, when there are already multiple qualified workers for each job.

        •  Not in my backyard (0+ / 0-)
          How any elected official can argue that flooding the market  with even more workers is a good thing, when there are already multiple qualified workers for each job.
          But it's fine to give citizenship to illegal immigrants which may potentially encourage future illegal immigrants. Is that OK because they only flood the low skill job market which may not affect those who oppose H1Bs?
      •  Citizensho (0+ / 0-)
        Many have concerns about H-1Bs not because "they only like immigrants who come illegally," but because they're used as a tool to exploit foreign workers into working for less and in poor conditions.
        In that case give instant citizenship to people who come on a H1B if they are interested in it. Or instead of 1,15,000 H1-Bs - give 1,15,000 citizenships on the same criteria as H1-Bs.

        DKos seems to love immigrants as long as they don't take away 'their own jobs'. If they do take away their own jobs, then sophist arguments like poor conditions are used to attack H1Bs.

    •  Declaring natural functions, such as (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      perambutation, unlawful is abhorent. All persons must receive equal treatment. Citizenship is not a privileged poistion; it's a bundle of obligations. This is what the cons refuse to understand because they reject all obligations.

      We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

      by hannah on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 12:23:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No idea (0+ / 0-)

        I have no idea what you are trying to say here. I have no idea what is perambutation. Google also doesn't help much. And firefox puts a red squiggly underneath it saying it does not know the word 'perambutation'.

        •  You're right. I was perhaps still half (0+ / 0-)

          asleep. The word I wanted was perambulation. It means walking about on one's own two feet.

          Also, that should be "privileged position."

          We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

          by hannah on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 08:21:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  H1b visas are often used to drive down wages (5+ / 0-)

      and undercut the bargaining positions of American workers.

      If we really, truly, cannot fill a needed position with American workers, then we need to start training those workers and start bringing in foreign workers to fill the gap.

      But those foreign workers need to be entirely free to shop their labor to the highest bidders, not be forced into borderline serfdom.  We also ought to do all we can to give preference to people who want to move here and bring their families and stay, rather than people just looking to stay here a few years and then head home.

      When we get immigrants instead of temp workers, we build stronger communities.

      "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

      by JesseCW on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 12:27:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Same thing (0+ / 0-)
         H1b visas are often used to drive down wages and undercut the bargaining positions of American workers.
        Don't illegal immigrants also do the same thing with low skill jobs?
        •  Undocumented workers do, precisely because (0+ / 0-)

          than easily be deported if they "cause trouble".

          ICE is today what the Pinkertons were 130 years ago.

          "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

          by JesseCW on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 03:46:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Then why (0+ / 0-)

            So why does anyone who objects to H1Bs because they are used to drive down wages not object to citizenship for illegal immigrants on the grounds that it will encourage more illegals and thereby drive down wages and undercut bargaining positions for American workers?

            •  Documenting undocumented workers empowers (0+ / 0-)


              It means they can go to the Dept. of Labor when their boss tries to literally or figuratively fuck them.

              It means they can freely shop their labor to the highest bidder, without a wage discount that results from the limited number of employers willing to pretend their forged papers are real.

              When they are free to fight for higher wages, that raises prevailing wages for all workers.

              "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

              by JesseCW on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 04:48:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  But (0+ / 0-)
                Documenting undocumented workers empowers them.
                It means they can go to the Dept. of Labor when their boss tries to literally or figuratively fuck them.
                but it also means that you are essentially approving of the way they came here, which means that as soon as the older batch gets documented, there will be a newer batch of people coming into the country who will drive down wages and undercut bargaining positions for American workers? Then they would have to be converted to documented workers. And the cycle goes on.
                Also normally H1-Bs who want to be citizens usually get work permits in an average of 5-6 years (I may be wrong, but this is my worst case estimate). Once they have their work permits, they can switch jobs. So worst case they are exploited and they drive down wages for 6 years. Undocumented workers also would be spending a minimum of 6 years before they get amnesty.
                Plus I don't think H1Bs are all underpaid. I have seen H1Bs in big companies like Google, Microsoft etc and they are on par with citizens. OTOH, I would think that also every undocumented worker is unpaid and the end up driving down wages more.

                I have no issue with this - but my question why don't the same people who approve of the above also make efforts to replace the H1B programmer with a citizenship program with the same caps per year. I think it's because of the 'not in my backyard' syndrome. A lot more people in DKos are competing for their jobs with H1Bs are compared to the undocumented workers.


                •  Why should I hate someone for seeking (0+ / 0-)

                  opportunity?  For striving to feed their family?

                  Most of them were driven here by our countries disgusting trade policies, which destroyed the markets in their own home countries.

                  I fully approve of them fighting to better their lives as workers.

                  No "newer batch" of people can drive down wages unless they're forced by our government to be an part of a vulnerable underclass of worker without protections under the law.

                  Employers don't hire undocumented workers because they accept low wages.  Americans will accept low wages.  They hire them because they are forced to accept poor treatment on the job.

                  When everyone has access to OSHA and the Dept of Labor, there is no "undercutting".

                  I'm not competing with H1B workers.  I've done unskilled or blue collar labor my entire life, just as every man in my family has since we landed in this country 120 years ago.

                  I'll compete against workers from anywhere - on an even playing field.  But I know from experience that I can't get people to sign union cards if they're scared of INS raids.

                  "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

                  by JesseCW on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 07:27:39 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Great (0+ / 0-)

                    My comment wasn't specifically aimed at you - but other replies I got in this thread.

                    Anyway -

                    Currently, 65,000 foreign workers are granted H1B visas every year. Under the Klobuchar-Hatch legislation, that number would jump to 115,000 right away and then rise by 20,000 every year, reaching a cap of 300,000 workers a year. The legislation would also allow those visa holders to change jobs more easily.
                    (Emphasis mine)

                    If jobs can be changed easily then it's even better. I don't see why anyone could have any objection to this.

                    •  Why would anyone object to 240,000 workers being (0+ / 0-)

                      imported NOT as immigrants, but as temp workers?

                      Because our country is stronger when we accept immigrants than when we import temporary labor units.

                      "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

                      by JesseCW on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 06:14:20 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  True (0+ / 0-)

                        but the undocumented workers also don't get their citizenship directly. They would be coming in as undocumented workers initially, work for few years undocumented, get exploited, bring down wages in whatever field they are working and then get amnesty.

                        It's similar to the H1-B program except
                        - The exploitation is lesser in H1-B - ergo wages and labor conditions would be less depressed for the American Worker.
                        - With the "able to change jobs more easily" legislation, this would be even better
                        - They don't amnesty but go through the green card and then citizenship route.

  •  You're completely right (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smash artist, slothlax

    the biggest thing about all this is that we have forced the Republican Party to sit down with us and figure out a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.  That's where the negotiations are starting, and it's incredible.

  •  This is remarkably similar to what (0+ / 0-)

    Schumer and Graham were working on in 2009 before McConnell told the Senate to say no to everything.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 04:09:30 AM PST

  •  I wonder at this approach... (0+ / 0-)

    What's the benefit of having a bipartisan Go8 hammer this out in secret rather than have the democrats introduce their version of immigration reform and let the GOP react to it publicly?
    At least initially?

    I doubt this plan became less draconian as a result of the GOP's participation.

  •  Voting rights would be ten years+ (0+ / 0-)

    like other past proposals?

    Gang of 8 wanted to beat Pres Obama - especially Rubio.

    "The world is made for people who aren't cursed with self awareness" -Annie Savoy (Bull Durham)

    by Jacoby Jonze on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 06:07:03 AM PST

  •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN
    Does anyone know how long it would take the cue (sp- you mean queue) of current individuals waiting to all get a green card?
    Depends upon the country of origin and the visa preference category that would apply (Unless of course they create a new category to cover the undocumented, since most are here illegally because either they don't qualify for a preference or they didn't want to wait in their country of origin for a visa, assuming they could even get one.).  For Mexico, China India and the Philippines? They are currently working on the lowest priority family-sponsored visa applications from the 1980's for those countries.  Most are somewhere in the 2000's.

    Other countries, much faster.  If you want to know how long it will take, you can look at the State Department's Visa Bulletin, which is issued monthly.

    (The visa bulletin does not deal with the processing times US-side for the right to obtain an immigrant visa; only the time it takes after get approval for one to actually get one).

    BTW, can someone please explain to me why this isn't Simpson Bowles (but with the unlawful presence bans being forgiven for the group that is already here) all over again?  

  •  If The U.S. Family Based Immigration System (0+ / 0-)

    Is 'broken' by virtue of the fact that some millions of individuals decided they didn't want to follow U.S. immigration law, when Congress 'fixes' it, won't it again be 'broken' when the next group of individuals decides that they don't want to obey U.S. immigration law?

    And why, still, has nobody even used the term 'NAFTA' in all of this?

    'Comprehensive Immigration Reform', The Prequel

    I won't be coming home tonight, my generation will put it right - Genesis 9:3

    by superscalar on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 06:26:28 AM PST

  • this start or end? (0+ / 0-)

    It reads like a compromise bill. If its the STARING point of negotiation that will be problematic. As an end its fine.

    Anyway this might be a rare situation where negotiating moves things left.

    Who is responsible for border-Brewer and AZ vigilantes? Does legal mean LEGAL for immediate normalization? How can legal normal residents not have acces to same benefits as green card holders?

  •  The fine and back taxes bit are idiotic. (0+ / 0-)

    Rich people can get into the country legally.  Those provisions are specifically designed to block most undocumented workers from taking that 'pathway'.

  •  Tighter border security (0+ / 0-)

    IS NOT a Right Wing policy initiative. It's a sensible pragmatic part of the plan. I don't know why my friends on the left act like it's a right wing idea.

    "I don't want a line in the Sand lines can be moved. They can be blown away. I want a six foot trench carved into granite."

    by theone718 on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 06:57:42 AM PST

  •  They better reform actual immigration policy (0+ / 0-)

    All the stuff they are talking about is just cleaning up after an unrealistic immigration policy.  I am no expert on the in and outs of the laws and procedures, but it seems the forces of supply and demand have to be taken more into account.  We are a prosperous, open society and when the economy is doing well people will want to immigrate here.  The immigration system should reflect that reality more than it does today and I don't see anything like that in this proposal.

    That said, there is a mess that does need to be cleaned up, so at least its something.

    There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

    by slothlax on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 08:55:56 AM PST

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