By The Washington Post
There’s a long way to go, and a universe of details to be decided, before Congress overhauls the nation’s broken immigration system. Still, it qualified as big news Monday that a bipartisan group of eight senators, working over the last several weeks, was able to fashion a skeletal framework agreement, including the granting of legal status for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the county. It’s an important starting point, but only a starting point, for what should become serious negotiations between the White House and lawmakers.
The four Republican and four Democratic senators arrived at their declaration of principles in part by fudging the particulars. The senators agreed that most illegal immigrants should qualify for probationary legal status. That would allow them to work and stay in the United States before becoming eligible to apply for a green card and, ultimately, citizenship.
But whether that process would take five years, 20 years or more was left fuzzy.
Among those who accept that 11 million undocumented residents are here to stay, there is broad agreement that the path to citizenship should include screening for criminal records, paying fines and back taxes and establishing a means for employers to verify the legal status of job applicants.
Many in Congress also understand that any reform package must establish a workable mechanism to satisfy the market’s future demand for an adequate number of low-skilled workers and ensure visas for foreigners who receive degrees in science, technology and engineering from U.S. universities.
It remains an open question whether that consensus extends to the House majority. Top House Republicans, including Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), were noncommittal about the senators’ declaration.
If the fledgling bipartisan plan provides a jolt of momentum toward bona fide negotiations, it will have been a success.
The Washington Post