Marco Rubio

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)

A bipartisan group of eight Senators have endorsed an outline for immigration reform, greatly improving the chances of something passing this term. The outline has been endorsed by Four Republicans senators John McCain (AZ), Lindsey Graham (SC), Marco Rubio (FL) and Jeff Flake (AZ); and by Four Democrats Chuck Schmer (NY), Dick Durbin (IL) Robert Menendez (NJ) and Michael Bennet (CO).

The outline is based on four basic pillars.

  • Creating a tough pathway for citizenship for those immigrations currently in the country without documentation. This would be contingent upon “securing the borders.” People who came to the country as minors or to work in the agricultural sector will have different easier pathways to citizenship.
  • It would reform the legal immigration system to do things encourage more high skilled workers.
  • Create an effective employee verification system to reduce the incentive for illegal immigration in the future.
  • Improving the process for admitting low skill workers for things like the agricultural industry.

The fact that the proposal has bipartisan support and that so many senators chose to attach their names to the package is a positive sign. There is clearly a recognition among some top Republicans that they need to do something about immigration to improve their long term political prospects and that popular opinion on this issue has shifted dramatically in the past year.

That said a vague outline is not a piece of legislation. It is easy to agree in principle but once the details are worked out that is when negotiations break down. The prospects for broad immigration reform also look good during George W. Bush’s second term but quickly fell apart.

Photo by Gage Skidmore under Creative Commons License