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A New Roadmap to Citizenship is the Centerpiece of Bipartisan Immigration Reform Legislation

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Today, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) hit all seven Sunday morning talk shows, including Univision’s “Al Punto” and Telemundo’s “Enfoque,” to promote the Senate Gang of 8’s highly anticipated immigration bill.  Many other members of the “Gang of 8” also appeared on TV this weekend discussing the legislation, including Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), John McCain (R-AZ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) — who announced earlier on MSNBC that the bill’s expected introduction date is Tuesday.

According to recap of Rubio’s appearances in the New York Times, “It was a striking show of confidence from Mr. Rubio, one of eight members of a bipartisan Senate group that has been crafting a plan to provide a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants; only weeks ago he had been a voice for caution, a counterweight to the optimism being expressed by others in the group…In each appearance he spoke with a sense of urgency, arguing that the plan did not constitute amnesty for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, arguing that they would receive no federal benefits during the 13 or so years it would take them to qualify for full legal citizenship and that the plan depended on tougher border security and better systems for verifying the employment and legal standing of people already in the country.”

Said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:

The preseason is over.  Opening day is upon us.  And establishing new roadmap to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is the core of the reform bill to be unveiled this week.  If bipartisanship and common sense continue to hold, we will achieve a major breakthrough this year.

Of course, not everyone is happy about the forthcoming reform.  Today on ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) criticized the yet-to-be-seen Senate Gang of 8’s bill with his typical talking points.  Yet, just moments after his appearance, conservative columnist George Will went on the air to refute Sessions’ claims, saying, “Conservatism begins with facing facts. And the facts are 11 million people are here illegally…They’re woven into our society. They’re not leaving. And the American people would not tolerate the police measures necessary to extract them from our community. Therefore, the great consensus has to be on the details of a path to citizenship.”

Added Sharry:

We’ll be analyzing the bill carefully. Does the legislation provide a fair, achievable, inclusive path to citizenship, or is it fraught with landmines and impossible hurdles?  Are the physical presence, work, language, fees, and other requirements reasonable, or will they exclude people who are already part of America?  Will the citizenship program be held hostage to arbitrary border achievements, or will we both walk and chew gum at the same time?  The success or failure of reform legislation rides on getting these important provisions right.