Advocates, opponents say Senate plan on immigration changes needs work

The Senate’s Gang of 8 has released the full text of a proposal to overhaul the nation’s immigration system.

The bill appears to map out a decade-long path to citizenship for many of the 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally, with notable exceptions.

Opponents call it amnesty.

But Tasha Kelemen, who heads the Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, fears it will still exclude many deserving residents.

It’s a positive step, she said, but changes are needed in the legislation to address an array of situations.

“Because they cannot get the required paperwork together to prove a continuous presence in the U.S., or they cannot afford the fines or their income is too low,” she said

That’s not how Steve Camarota sees it. The director of research at the conservative Center for Immigration Studies sees a plan that sanctions large numbers of competitors for scarce jobs.

“A larger and larger fraction of working-age people are not working and that’s especially true for those that don’t have a lot of education Camarota said. “And this bill not only gives work authorization to illegal immigrants, a large number of whom don’t have a lot of education, but it also contemplates increasing the flow of lesser-skilled immigrants to the United States.”

What’s more, he said, “the bill looks to be about 130,000 words long. The New Testament is about 180,000 words, to place that into context.”

In other words, there’s a lot more to learn and negotiate. It’s unlikely the current proposal will be the one the Senate votes on in May. After that, it would move to the House for consideration.

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