Fifty-one percent of Americans support the comprehensive immigration reform plan being crafted by the “Gang of Eight” in the Senate.
Take a look at the immigration bill now before the senate, as explained by The Associated Press.
Border security: The bill makes it a goal that there be 100 percent surveillance of the border with Mexico and that 90 percent of would-be crossers are caught or turned back.
Within six months of enactment of the bill, the Homeland Security Department must develop a border security plan to achieve those goals, including the use of drones, additional agents and other approaches; and develop a plan to identify where more fencing is needed.
About 3,500 new Customs agents would be hired and The National Guard would be deployed to the border to build fencing and checkpoints and perform other tasks.
Before anyone in the U.S. illegally can get a new provisional legal status, the border security and border fencing plans must be in place. Before they can get permanent resident green cards, the plans must be substantially completed, and a new entry-exit system must also be implemented at U.S. seaports and airports to track people coming and going.
Path to citizenship: The estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally could obtain "registered provisional immigrant status" six months after enactment of the bill as long as the following four conditions are met:
1. The Homeland Security Department has developed border security and fencing plans.
2. They arrived in the U.S. prior to Dec. 31, 2011, and maintained continuous physical presence since then.
3. They do not have a felony conviction or three or more misdemeanors.
4. They pay a $500 fine.
People in provisional legal status could work and travel in the U.S. but would not be eligible for most federal benefits, including health care and welfare.
People brought to the country as youths would be able to get green cards in five years, and citizenship immediately thereafter.
High-skilled workers: The cap on the H-1B visa program for high-skilled workers would be immediately raised from 65,000 a year to 110,000 a year, with 25,000 more set aside for people with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or math from a U.S. school.
Immigrants with certain extraordinary abilities, such as professors and researchers, multinational executives and athletes, would be exempted from green-card limits. So would graduates of U.S. universities with job offers and degrees in science, technology, engineering or math.
Low-skilled workers: A new agriculture worker visa program would be established to replace the existing program. Agriculture workers already here illegally, who've worked in the industry at least two years, could qualify in another five years for green cards if they stay in the industry.
Family immigration: Under current law, U.S. citizens can sponsor spouses, children and siblings to come to the U.S., with limits on some categories. The bill would bar citizens from sponsoring their siblings and would allow them to sponsor married sons and daughters only if those children are under age 31.
Employment verification: Within four years, all employers must implement E-Verify, a program to electronically verify their workers' legal status. As part of that, noncitizens would be required to show photo ID that must match with a photo in the E-Verify system.
Click here to read more about the new immigration bill.
To read about the longest Senate filibusters in history, click here.