The New York Times reports Senate Republicans reached a compromise on the status of the 11-12 million illegal aliens in the U.S.
The compromise is different than the proposal backed by Democrats that would put nearly all illegal aliens on a path to citizenship.
The Republican compromise would treat illegal aliens differently based upon the length of time they have been in the U.S.:
Those who have lived in the country at least five years would be put on a path toward guaranteed citizenship, provided that they remained employed, paid fines and back taxes, and learned English, a senior Republican aide said. The aide said this group accounted for about 7 million of the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants believed to be living here.
Those who have lived here for two to five years, said to number about three million, would have to leave the country briefly before reporting to an American port of entry, where they would be classified as temporary workers. They would be allowed to apply for citizenship but would have no guarantee of obtaining it. Those who did not would have to leave after participating in the temporary worker program for six years.
The remaining one million or so, those who have lived in the country less than two years, would be required to leave. They could apply for temporary worker status but would not be guaranteed it.
According to the Times, the Senate will decide on Friday whether the compromise should be considered for a vote.
Bloomberg reports the Republican compromise doesn't change guest-worker proposals that would allow 400,000 foreigners a year to enter the U.S. for jobs.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said senators will have the opportunity over the next two days to vote on three separate immigration proposals: The Republican compromise, introduced last night; Frist's own legislation that focuses on border security and enforcement of immigration laws; and a Judiciary Committee measure that lets undocumented immigrants in the country before Jan. 7, 2004, apply for legal status and stay at their jobs in the U.S. after paying a $1,000 fine, passing a background check and learning English.
I can accept this compromise. My main objection to all previous proposals to give legal status to illegal aliens was that it would just encourage more illegal aliens as did the amnesty authorized by the 1986 Immigration Reform Act. If we only reward the long term illegal aliens with legal status and send the newer illegal aliens packing, well I'm willing to give that a chance. To be successful there must be enforcement against employers who hire illegal aliens.