WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan group of four Democratic senators and four Republican senators will announce the framework for a comprehensive immigration reform plan on Monday, seeking to jump out in front of President Obama's planned Tuesday speech on immigration.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) will join with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to promote the plan. Senators will unveil their plan (read the full five-page memo below) at a Monday afternoon press conference in Washington.
The senators were expected to make an announcement this week, but after news broke last Thursday that Obama would speak Tuesday in Las Vegas about what he wants in immigration legislation, the lawmakers agreed quickly last Friday to hold the event at the beginning of this week. Both Democratic and Republican senators were eager to go before Obama to try to wrest control of the process from the White House, according to Senate aides.
The group is notable in that it includes leading Senate Democrats like Durbin and Schumer, veteran Republican senators like McCain and Graham, and then Rubio, who was reported to have first joined the bipartisan working group last week, but according to a Rubio aide, was first approached by the others in December and has worked with them since.
"He's met with them several times since then. Our staffs have shared a lot of paper," the aide said, describing the principles as "consistent with everything that Senator Rubio's been talking about."
Durbin and Menendez have been insistent that a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. is a core part of their approach.
"Very clearly, having a pathway to earned legalization is an essential element. And I think that we are largely moving in that direction as an agreement," Menendez said on ABC News' "This Week."
But the bipartisan group has also agreed that before a pathway to citizenship is made available, thresholds must be met on border security and workplace enforcement.
The draft agreement reads: "Once the enforcement measures have been completed, individuals with probationary legal status will be required to go to the back of the line of prospective immigrants, pass an additional background check, pay taxes, learn English and civics, demonstrate a history of work in the United States, and current employment, among other requirements, in order to earn the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent residency. Those individuals who successfully complete these requirements can eventually earn a green card."
The border component will include a commission to verify that the border is secure, made up of governors and attorneys general from border states.
In response to a report in The Hill last week that undocumented immigrants might become eligible for taxpayer-subsidized health care under immigration reform, the Rubio aide also said that the bipartisan group is agreed that undocumented immigrants who might be given a temporary work visa under a new legal framework will not be eligible to receive federal aid.
The draft language backs this up. "Current restrictions preventing non-immigrants from accessing federal public benefits will also apply to lawful probationary immigrants," it says.
McCain, also appearing on "This Week," said that the group's proposal is "not that much different from what we tried to do in 2007," when then-President George W. Bush tried to push a set of reforms through Congress.
Bush's initiative was met with hostility by the conservative wing of the Republican party, who howled about amnesty and brought the initiative down to defeat.
McCain said that Republican Mitt Romney's loss in the 2012 presidential election, and the fact that McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012 lost increasingly large numbers of Latino voters, has altered the politics of the immigration debate.
"What's changed is -- honestly, is that there is a new, I think, appreciation on both sides of the aisle -- including maybe more importantly on the Republican side of the aisle -- that we have to enact a comprehensive immigration reform bill," McCain said.
"Look at the last election. Look at the last election," McCain said. "We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours, for a variety of reasons, and we've got to understand that."
In the past, figures like McCain -- who is viewed suspiciously by many conservatives –- have been unable to convince the GOP base or the media influencers like conservative talk radio that their approach to immigration is not "amnesty."
But Rubio –- who is the son of Cuban immigrants –- has had success in ways that other Republicans never have. Just last week he got high praise for his ideas on immigration from talk radio host Mark Levin and Fox News' Lou Dobbs, who both in the past have been outspoken opponents of legalizing undocumented immigrants.
"He's talking intelligently about a rational, effective, humane response to the issue, and the idea's going to be whether the Republican party has the ability, the capacity and the will to put him in a position so that he can represent the party on the issue," Dobbs said.
Also on HuffPost:
The Naturalization Act of 1790
The Naturalization Act of 1790 was our country's first set of laws dealing with citizenship. Applicants had to be "<a href="http://rs6.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llsl&fileName=001/llsl001.db&recNum=226 " target="_hplink">a free white person</a>" of "good moral character." This excluded indentured servants and slaves. Good moral character was substantiated by establishing residence for at least one year in the state from where he was applying, and at least two years of residence in the country. The Naturalization Act of 1795 would extend that requirement to five years, and is still standard today.
The Fourteenth Amendment, 1868
A Reconstruction Amendment that was added to the U.S. Constitution following the Civil War, the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment establishes for the first time that children born on U.S. soil would be conferred U.S. citizenship regardless of their parent's citizenship status, race, or place of birth. Last year, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) introduced the <a href="http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr140 " target="_hplink">Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011</a> to Congress, and challenged this. The bill would require that at least one parent be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident for a child to be granted citizenship. According to the <a href="http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h140/text " target="_hplink">bill's text</a>, the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011 would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, and "clarify those classes of individuals born in the United States who are nationals and citizens of the United States at birth." Prior to this, Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/26/nathan-deal-georgia-lawma_n_207485.html " target="_hplink">introduced</a> a similar <a href="http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h1868/show" target="_hplink">bill</a> in 2009.
The Naturalization Act of 1870
The Naturalization Act of 1870<a href="http://thepoliticsofimmigration.org/pages/chronology.htm " target="_hplink"> explicitly extended</a> naturalization laws to "aliens of African nativity and persons of African descent." This meant that for the first time, African-American children would be conferred citizenship upon birth. Asian immigrants and other people of color are excluded per the Naturalization Acts of 1790 and 1795.
The Page Act of 1875
Named after Republican Representative Horace F. Page, this is the first U.S. federal immigration law to explicitly prohibit the immigration of a particular group: persons of Asian descent. Primarily meant to limit Chinese immigrant labor and prostitution, the Page Act prohibited the immigration of: (1) contracted labor from "China, Japan, or any Oriental country" that was not "free and voluntary," (2) Chinese prostitution and (3) criminals and women who would engage in prostitution. Ultimately, the <a href="http://www.uchastings.edu/racism-race/pageact.html " target="_hplink">Page Act</a> severely <a href="http://immigration-online.org/228-page-act-united-states-1875.html " target="_hplink">restricted</a> the immigration of Asian women. Only 136 of the the nearly 40,000 Chinese immigrants who arrived in the months before the bill's enforcement were women. And, it would pave the way for the Chinese Exclusion Act. In this picture, Michael Lin, chair of the 1882 Project, a coalition of rights groups seeking a statement of regret over that year's Chinese Exclusion Act, speaks on May 26, 2011 in Washington, DC, at the US House of Representatives in front of a reproduction of a 19th-century sign that aimed at rousing up sentiment against Chinese Americans. Lawmakers introduced a bill that would offer an official statement of regret for the act, which banned further immigration of Chinese to the United States and ended citizenship rights for ethnic Chinese. (AFP PHOTO/SHAUN TANDON).
The Chinese Exclusion Act, 1882
Signed by President Chester A. Arthur, the <a href="http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/resources/archives/seven/chinxact.htm " target="_hplink">Chinese Exclusion Act</a> was the first federal immigration law to prohibit immigration on the basis of race. The bill barred all Chinese laborers, skilled and unskilled, from immigrating to the U.S. for ten years. It was made permanent by 1903, and was not lifted until the 1943 Magnuson Act. The 1898 Supreme Court <a href="http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/immigration/exclusion.html " target="_hplink">decision</a> in <em>United States v. Wong Kim Ark</em> finally extended naturalization laws to persons of Chinese descent by ruling that anyone born in the United States was indeed a U.S. citizen. This editorial cartoon from 1882 shows a Chinese man being excluded from entry to the "Golden Gate of Liberty." The sign next to the iron door reads, "Notice--Communist, Nihilist, Socialist, Fenian & Hoodlum welcome. But no admittance to Chinamen." At the bottom, the caption reads, "THE ONLY ONE BARRED OUT. Enlightened American Statesman--'We must draw the line <em>somewhere</em>, you know.'" (Image Source: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, vol. 54 (1882 April 1), p. 96. [Public domain], via <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_only_one_barred_out_cph.3b48680.jpg" target="_hplink">Wikimedia Commons</a>).
The Naturalization Act of 1906
The Naturalization Act of 1906 further <a href="http://www.understandingrace.org/history/gov/eastern_southern_immigration.html" target="_hplink">defined</a> the naturalization process: the ability to speak English was made a <a href="http://www.enotes.com/topic/Naturalization_Act_of_1906" target="_hplink">requisite</a> for immigrants to adjust their status.
The Immigration Act of 1924
U.S. President Coolidge signed this U.S. federal <a href="http://history.state.gov/milestones/1921-1936/ImmigrationAct " target="_hplink">bill</a> into law. It capped the number of immigrants who could be admitted entry to the U.S. and barred immigration of persons who were not eligible for naturalization. And, as the Naturalization Act of 1790 required, an immigrant had to be white in order to naturalize. The quotas varied by country. Image Source: Flickr Creative Commons, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/nycmarines/6306315902/" target="_hplink">NYCMarines</a>.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (The McCarran-Walter Act)
The <a href="https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:zwaVG82lZisJ:www-rohan.sdsu.edu/dept/polsciwb/brianl/docs/1952McCarranWaltersAct.pdf+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjEwx76FIBTixZAfyncZz-1CSuSeciv5qB6vvWTrUfW58XRpXq8zkpnI57XSuuG5Bu-WSySGbEhxYvZxP7y6qDQuOsDhgDa6qUqUaJ8F4imTzKJsVtppHc_-eew2dK6vGhoIUZs&sig=AHIEtbTNQ5GFiNMVS-xyThq8VVSj_gG9KA " target="_hplink">McCarran-Walter Act</a> kept up the controversial Immigration Act of 1924, but <a href="http://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/ImmigrationAct" target="_hplink">formally</a> ended Asian exclusion.
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, it <a href="http://library.uwb.edu/guides/USimmigration/1965_immigration_and_nationality_act.html" target="_hplink">abolished</a> the quota system that favored immigration from Europe and limited immigration from Asia and South America.
Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996
The 1996 <a href="http://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/PUBLAW/HTML/PUBLAW/0-0-0-10948.html " target="_hplink">Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act</a> (IIRIRA) is a piece of legislation that <a href="http://library.uwb.edu/guides/usimmigration/1996_illegal_immigration_reform_and_immigrant_responsibility_act.html " target="_hplink">defined</a> an array of issues to do with legal and illegal immigration -- from outlining how border patrol agents should administer visa processing, to the minutiae of how to handle deportation proceedings -- IIRIRA established enforcement and patrolling practices.