While some details are still needed to settle down, negotiators were able to find common ground on one of the last significant issues – wages and visas for undocumented farm workers.
“After months of negotiation, I can announce that a bipartisan agreement has been reached addressing key issues of agricultural workers in the forthcoming comprehensive immigration reform bill,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, wrote in a statement on Friday.
The agreement “resolves outstanding issues including wage levels, agricultural guest worker visas and protections for U.S. workers,” Feinstein said.
Hatch went on, adding that the agreement “balances America’s farming needs and the needs of both American and immigrant farm workers.”
However, he cautioned that he wasn’t yet signing on to the full “Gang of Eight” plan, CNN writes.
The legislation by a bipartisan group of senators would give the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally a way to obtain legal status and eventually become U.S. citizens, provided certain measures are met.
According to the reached agreement, the illegal immigrants, those who crossed the U.S. border after the December 2011 cut-off date would be forced to go back to their native, revealed the aide, who wished to remain anonymous.
“People need to have been in the country long enough to have put down some roots. If you just got here and are illegal, then you can’t stay,” the congressional aide said.
The four Democrats and four Republicans responsible for composing the overall “Gang of Eight” plan are expected to unveil the measure next Tuesday.
According to numerous reports, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will attend the first public hearing on the legislation on Wednesday, followed most likely by committee markups in May and consideration by the full Senate in June.
Besides, the eight senators have agreed on some measures considering a path to citizenship that could affect up to roughly 11 million undocumented residents, as well as the creation of a system to assess the state of border security.
Specifically, the senators have agreed to a 13-year path to citizenship. As the proposed measure suggests, now it would take a decade for undocumented workers to get a green card, and then another three years to gain citizenship.
During the mentioned ten years, undocumented workers would be forced to pay a fine and back taxes, and pass a background check. The size of the fine is still unknown.
Moreover, no undocumented worker would be eligible for citizenship until the border is considered secure – a key sticking point for conservatives.
The “Gang of Eight” includes Sen. Michael Bennet, R-Colorado, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina; Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona; Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona; Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey; Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois; and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York.
Rubio and Bennet are responsible for work with non “Group of Eight” members while Hatch and Feinstein are considering on issues relating to undocumented farm workers.