With the new Democratic majority in Congress, Democratic lawmakers and some
key center-leaning Republican allies are working on measures that could place
millions of illegal immigrants on a more direct path to citizenship. In May, the Senate passed a bill that was much more centrist than the radically right-wing bill passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives at the end of 2005.
The new efforts in both houses of Congress are likely to look more like the Senate bill, and in many cases be much more humane and liberal-leaning.
This is in direct response to public support by Americans that felt some of the measures went too far in punishing immigrants, while giving a free pass to businesses that were in greater violation of existing laws.
Being a nation of immigrants, most Americans want to welcome newcomers to the United
States. The trick is to balance between security of the country, stability of the economy and the society, and simple humanity toward other people.
Accordingly, lawmakers are considering abandoning a requirement in the Senate bill that would compel several million illegal immigrants to leave the United States before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship.
The lawmakers are also considering denying financing for 700 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico, a law championed by Republicans. The original $6 billion to $10 billion estimate has increased to a $36 billion estimate, and may take longer than a decade to complete.
Details of the bill, which would be introduced early next year, are being drafted. Key points include tougher border security and a guest worker plan. The lawmakers, who hope for bipartisan support, will almost certainly face pressure to compromise on the issues from some Republicans and conservative Democrats.
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