From the LA Times:
Eight senators who have spent weeks trying to write a bipartisan bill to overhaul immigration laws have privately agreed on the most contentious part of the draft — how to offer legal status to the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants.
According to aides familiar with the closed-door negotiations, the bill would require illegal immigrants to register with Homeland Security Department authorities, file federal income taxes for their time in America and pay a still-to-be-determined fine. They also must have a clean law enforcement record.
Once granted probationary legal status, immigrants would be allowed to work but would be barred from receiving federal public benefits, including food stamps, family cash assistance, Medicaid and unemployment insurance.
The eight Senators still have not decided how long it will be before immigrants could file for permanent residency. The President has proposed eight years. The LA Times reports that the Senate will likely make the path at least ten years.
Other unresolved issues:
- how many visas for highly skilled workers
- how the guest worker program will work
- exit tracking of immigrants
- how much money can be allocated for border enforcement.
Finally, the goal of introducing the bill by March 22nd appears to be slipping and early April may now be the time frame.