The group of eight senators who have spent two months crafting a bipartisan immigration reform bill, have agreed on how they intend to offer legal status to the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
The LA Times reports that the contentious bill will require all illegal immigrants to register with Homeland Security Department authorities, file federal income taxes for their time in America and pay a still-to-be-determined fine. Applicants must also have no criminal record.
If they are granted probationary legal status, they would be allowed to work legally, but not be eligible for federal public benefits, including food stamps, family cash assistance, Medicaid and unemployment insurance. Currently, undocumented immigrants have access to none of these benefits.
It is still unknown how long undocumented illegal immigrants would need to wait before they could apply for permanent resident status and eventually become citizens.
The group of senators are expected to deliver a completed bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration by next month.
The group includes Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida and Jeff Flake of Arizona. The Democrats are Sens. Charles E. Schumer of New York, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado.
Angela Kelley, an immigration expert at the Center for American Progress thinks such a bipartisan bill represents a shift in attitudes.
"Nine months ago, people would have thought you were nuts to say that four Republicans and four Democrats were working on a way to legalize 11 million people," Kelley told the Times.
"It's a Rubik's Cube, but more sides are matching in color than ever before. That's significant.”