from the new SF Chronicle story:
Washington -- The Senate reached an extraordinary and fragile bipartisan agreement today on a sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration law that would grant a chance to permanent residence for illegal immigrants who have been in the country longer than five years -- an estimated 7 million people....
Final details continued to be worked out by senators and their aides with votes expected on the immigration legislation today and Friday.
President Bush early today signed off on the compromise, as did the Republican and Democratic Senate leaders.
Not unexpectedly, according to the Chronicle, "Conservative opponents denounced the pact as an amnesty for those largely Latin American migrants who broke the law to enter the country."
More here from the Washington Post:
Senate Republicans said last night they believed the compromise would garner enough bipartisan support to break through a parliamentary impasse that has stymied progress for two weeks on legislation to tighten border security and deal with the vast illegal immigrant population.
Under the agreement, the Senate would allow undocumented workers a path to lawful employment and citizenship if they could prove -- through work stubs, utility bills or other documents -- that they have been in the country for five years. To attain citizenship, those immigrants would have to pay a $2,000 penalty, back taxes, learn English, undergo a criminal background check and remain working for 11 years.
Those who have been here a shorter time would have to return to one of 16 designated ports of entry, such as El Paso, Tex., and apply for a new form of temporary work visa for low-skilled and unskilled workers. An additional provision would disqualify illegal immigrants who have been in the country less than two years.
P.S.: If you didn't see yesterday's "Migraphobia" flash cartoon by Mark Fiore, on the SF Gate web site, check it out here. Judging by the discussion here lately, some Kossacks will find it quite funny and totally relevant, and others will be righteously offended -- we report, you decide.