Donna Smith, Reuters, March 16, 2006
WASHINGTON — Under pressure to produce broad immigration reform legislation by the end of the month, a U.S. Senate panel on Thursday neared agreement on a proposal that would give some of the 12 million illegal aliens living in the country an opportunity to earn citizenship.
Although no vote will be held until after a weeklong congressional recess, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday appeared ready to back a proposal by panel member Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, who has worked on the issue with his Republican colleague John McCain of Arizona.
The panel, which is working on comprehensive immigration and border security legislation, will also consider a related proposal that would allow foreigners to enter the United States as legal guest workers and then have a chance to earn permanent status.
“The votes are there,” Grassley said.
Kennedy told the committee the proposal was not an amnesty. People seeking legal status would have to pay a $2,000 fine, apply for a six-year temporary status, have a job, pay taxes, learn English and show an understanding of U.S. government.