U.S. senators reach agreement on immigration reform
By ERICA WERNER
WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan group of leading senators reached agreement on the principles for a sweeping overhaul of the nation's immigration laws, including a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in this country.
The deal, to be announced at a news conference today, also covers border security, non-citizen or "guest" workers and employer verification of immigration status.
Although thorny details remain to be negotiated and success is far from certain -- the legislation could run into trouble in the Republican-controlled House -- the development heralds the start of what could be the most significant effort in years toward overhauling the nation's inefficient patchwork of immigration laws.
President Barack Obama also is committed to enacting comprehensive immigration legislation and will travel to Nevada on Tuesday to lay out his vision, which is expected to overlap in important ways with the Senate effort.
The eight senators expected to endorse the new principles today were Democrats Charles Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado; and Republicans John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida and Jeff Flake of Arizona.
Several of the lawmakers worked for years on the issue. McCain collaborated with the late Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy on immigration legislation pushed by then-President George W. Bush in 2007, only to see it collapse in the Senate when it couldn't get enough GOP support.
Now, with some Republicans chastened by the November elections, which demonstrated the importance of Latino voters and their increasing commitment to Democrats, some in the GOP said this time will be different.
"What's changed, 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.