Monday November 12, 2012

WASHINGTON -- Two senators on opposite sides of the aisle are proposing comprehensive changes to the immigration laws that would include a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants now in the United States.

Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, who promoted similar proposals on separate Sunday’s news shows. said that no path to citizenship would be available until the country’s borders were secure.

Only then could those in the U.S. without authorization "come out of the shadows, get biometrically identified, start paying taxes, pay a fine for the law the broke," Graham said on CBS’ "Face the Nation." "They can’t stay unless they learn our language, and they have to get in the back of line before they become citizens. They can’t cut in front of the line regarding people who are doing it right and it can take over a decade to get their green card."

Schumer told NBC’s "Meet the Press" that he and Graham have resumed talks on immigration policy that broke off two years ago and "have put together a comprehensive detailed blue print on immigration reform" that has "the real potential for bipartisan support."

Both senators said the overhaul would include developing a secure document to assure employers they’re hiring people authorized to work in the country, and allowing legal immigration for needed workers at all skill levels. The path to citizenship would require immigrants to learn English, go to the back of the citizenship line, have a job and not commit crimes.

Graham said the overhaul would have to be done in such a way that "we don’t have a third wave of illegal immigration 20 years from now. That’s what Americans want. They want more legal immigration and they want to fix illegal immigration once and for all."

In exit polls on Tuesday, The Associated Press found 65 percent favored offering most illegal immigrants workers in the United States a chance to apply for legal status, more than double the number who said most should be deported. Even among Republicans, the party associated with crackdowns on illegal immigration, about half favored a path toward staying in the U.S.