The Irish American community have given a warm welcome to the new immigration reform plan coming out of the Senate.

Democratic Senators Charles Schumer (NY), Robert Menendez (NJ) and Harry Reid (NV) have drafted a proposal that would legalize undocumented immigrants in the U.S and also provide new employment-based visas.

However, the legalization program would be delayed until so-called benchmarks are reached involving border security.

Ciaran Staunton, the President of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, said the bill was a long-overdue first step in restoring the Irish American community and he paid tribute to Senator Schumer.

"Schumer has always been a good friend to the Irish in New York," he said. "We deeply appreciate all his heart-felt work for us on the issue."

The "RSM" proposal would provide temporary Green Cards to illegal immigrants who register with the authorities.

The plan also includes a high-tech ID card for immigrant workers and "tough sanctions" against U.S. employers who hire illegal immigrants.

Democrats hope to attract Republican support by being tough on the border.

Staunton said this meant the ILIR would be renewing its efforts to reach out to Republican Senators.

Just Thursday, Staunton led a key ILIR delegation to meet with Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) in the Capitol.

The "RSM" proposal is a direct response to the furor over Arizona's new immigration law, which some have criticized as "racial profiling," and would also prevent states and local governments from creating their own immigration laws.

Speaking in Washington Thursday, Reid said, "Democrats and Republicans can all agree that our immigration system is broken," and called for bipartisan cooperation to fix it.

Senator Charles Schumer speaking at a ILIR eventILIR