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Immigration reform: 'This will be the year,' bipartisan Senate 'gang' says (+video)

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The Senate plan borrows heavily from prior immigration reform proposals. It would revamp nearly all parts of the immigration system to fix what the group calls a process that is “insurmountably difficult” for many immigrants as it includes long backlogs for family and employment visas that help incentivize illegal immigration.

Under the plan, advanced graduates of American universities in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields would receive special eligibility for green cards.

A federal employment verification system to discourage illegal workers would be introduced alongside a more flexible guest worker policy, including special provisions for agriculture workers and a broader reform that would allow businesses to hire more low-skilled workers when the economy is strong and fewer when it weakens.

But the project’s most novel – and thorny – elements lie in how it would deal with the millions of unauthorized residents already here, who will be required to register with the government if they want to become citizens. In order for these residents to take the next step, however, America’s borders will have to be deemed secure and the immigration laws enforced.

In putting the principles into legislative language by their target date in March, the senators will need to decide the necessary metrics or milestones to measure progress on border security and immigration enforcement.

Border security

The bipartisan road map calls for beefed up border patrols, including advanced technological assistance like unmanned aerial vehicles, and a system that tracks when visitors enter and exit the country, among other measures.

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