Barack Obama has welcomed proposed legislation to overhaul the US immigration system, saying it is consistent with his hopes for legalising an estimated 11m undocumented immigrants.
Earlier, the president was briefed on the draft bill by Senators Chuck Schumer and John McCain – leaders of the so-called gang of eight who have negotiated the bipartisan legislation.
Plans for a major public launch were put on hold following the bombings in Boston, but an outline of the bill was released on Tuesday afternoon.
It includes a route to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have lived in the US since December 31, 2011, as well as anyone who has close family members in the US deported for non-criminal reasons before that date. In exchange, the Senate proposes to tighten immigration at US borders to prevent further illegal entry in future. Measures include building a wall along parts of the Mexican border and calling in the National Guard.
“This bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they wanted, including me,” said Obama. “But it is largely consistent with the principles that I have repeatedly laid out for comprehensive reform.” “This bill would continue to strengthen security at our borders and hold employers more accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers. It would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are already in this country illegally.”
The bill is likely to receive Senate support but must still pass the House of Representatives where some Republicans are likely to be more sceptical.
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