A draft immigration bill allowing employed illegal aliens to remain in the United States indefinitely but requiring them to return home before applying for citizenship was released yesterday to colleagues by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter.
The draft guest-worker legislation, which melds portions of other competing bills, was met warily by other members of the committee who have introduced immigration bills either tougher or more lenient than Mr. Specter’s proposal.
“I look forward to working with Senator Specter to enact the realistic immigration reforms we need so that temporary workers can come here safely and the 11 million illegal workers already here will have a way to earn permanent residence and citizenship,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat whose own immigration bill would permit illegal aliens to apply for citizenship without first leaving the United States.
Mr. Specter’s bill would create a guest-worker program that allows new immigrants to work in the country for up to six years without applying for citizenship. Less clear, however, is what happens to the estimated 11 million to 20 million illegal aliens already here.
His proposal would create a temporary status for illegals who pay their taxes, remain employed and pass background checks. The bill does not cap the amount of time those workers may remain in that status.