'Gang of Eight' unveils plan
Posted at: 04/18/2013 3:21 PM
By: Jennifer Johnson, NBC
The so-called "Gang of Eight", a group of Republican and Democratic senators, unveiled its bi-partisan immigration reform bill Thursday in Washington.
The proposal, described by one of the Senators as having "something for everybody to hate," is designed to remove the threat of deportation for 11-million undocumented immigrants.
Conservatives call it amnesty. Immigration advocates say it punishes too much.
The Senators pushing their bi-partisan reform bill say it protects millions living in the U.S. from being deported.
"Our approach is balanced," said New York Democrat Chuck Schumer. "The border security triggers are strong but achievable. The path citizenship is tough but it is accessible."
"It is not good for this country to have millions of people living in shadows," added Florida Republican Marco Rubio.
Under the proposal undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before the end of 2011 could apply for provisional legal status six months after the bill is signed by the president.
They will pay $2,000 in fines, cannot have any outstanding taxes or felony convictions and won't receive federal benefits until they apply for permanent resident status after ten years.
"They're here and realistically there is nothing we can do to induce them them all to return to their countries of origin," said Arizona Republican John McCain.
Critics say this will open a floodgate of immigration, driving down wages and taking jobs away from U.S. workers.
Law enforcement officials don't believe it does enough to stop illegal border crossings from Mexico.
"We are effectively allowing the Superbowl to be played in a stadium where 3/4 of the entrances to that stadium have no ticket takers and no security," said Bristol County, Massachusetts Sheriff Tom Hodgson.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the plan will help make our country safer.
"By enabling DHS to further focus resources on criminals, human smugglers and traffickers and national security threats," she explained.
$17-billion would be spent on border security and hiring 3500 new customs agents.
Even with that provision, the bill faces months of debate and a lot opposition from the Republican-controlled House.