UPDATE 1-U.S. Senate strikes deal on immigration bill
WASHINGTON, April 6 (Reuters) – U.S. Senate leaders on Thursday
announced a bipartisan compromise on an overhaul of U.S. immigration
laws, giving some illegal immigrants a path to citizenship and creating
a temporary worker program.
“I think we’re looking like we may
be able to dance this afternoon,” Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid
of Nevada told reporters.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a
Tennessee Republican, appeared with Reid and said “We have a great
opportunity to deliver to the American people what they expect, what
they deserve,” a comprehensive border security and immigration reform
The deal, which would include a temporary worker program
backed by President George W. Bush, would allow illegal immigrants who
have been in the United States more than five years a chance to become
citizens if they meet a series of requirements and paid a fine. Other
rules would apply to people in the country less than five years.
“We still have obstacles ahead,” said Sen. John McCain, an Arizona
Republican who helped lead the debate. McCain cited some pending
amendments that could gut the compromise as well as eventual
negotiations with the House of Representatives, which passed a much
harsher bill that concentrated only on border security and enforcement
of immigration laws.
McCain said Bush supports the compromise. Bush was expected to make a statement shortly.
The Senate compromise would give illegal immigrants who had been in the
United States less than five years but more than two years a chance to
obtain a temporary work visa. They would have to leave the country and
reapply to come back. Those who had been in the country less than two
years would not be legalized.