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The Four Pillars of the Senate Plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

January 29, 2013

Yesterday, the bipartisan group of senators who have been working on CIR released the agreed-upon principles and framework for the legislation they intend to propose.

Four pillars are included in the plan:

I. Creating a Path to Citizenship for Unauthorized Immigrants Already Here that is Contingent Upon Securing the Border and Combating Visa Overstays

II. Improving our Legal Immigration System and Attracting the World’s Best and Brightest

III. Strong Employment Verification

IV. Admitting New Workers and Protecting Worker’s Rights

The first pillar will provide legal status for undocumented immigrants, while ensuring, as Senator Marco Rubio has stated, “any immigrants who [gain] legal status under the legislation would ‘be required to go to the back of the line’ behind other immigrants who applied to come through legal channels.”

The second pillar prioritizes high-skilled workers: “[O]ur immigration proposal will award a green card to immigrants who have received a PhD or Master’s degree in science, technology, engineering, or math from an American university.”

The third pillar strengthens the employment verification system. I-9 employment verification was first introduced under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), and employment verification is required for all newly-hired workers in the U.S. Recent proposals for employment verification have included expanded use of the E-Verify system which compares I-9 data to government records.

The fourth pillar would allow businesses to hire lower-skilled workers if they are unable to find U.S. workers who are available or willing to fill jobs. The proposal specifically addresses the U.S. agricultural industry which has seen significant challenge in states where strict anti-immigration laws have been enacted.

For the behind-the-scenes view on the Senate plan, go to CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash’s article: How the Senate immigration plan came together.

Today two additional immigration-related developments will occur. The first will be announcement of the Immigration Innovation Act, a bill sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch (Rep. UT) and others directly focused on high-skilled workers and an increase in the supply of H-1B nonimmigrant visas. Senator Marco Rubio is a co-sponsor of this bill. The second will be a speech by President Obama in Nevada, outlining his proposals for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.




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