Immigrants protest in favor of comprehensive immigration reform while on the West side of Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday. The bipartisan Senate panel has reportedly come to an agreement on an immigration reform bill, but the details may not be revealed until next week. (Photo : Reuters)
Amid the backdrop of thousands of protestors gathering in Washington, reports have surfaced that the U.S. Senate panel working on an immigration bill have reached a deal, but the details of the bill will not be available until sometime next week.
As UPI.com reports, the group delayed the public release of the bill until next week. The bill is expected at that time to be heaerd bedfore the Senate Judiciary Committee and go before the floor of the Senate for a vote before the end of May, according to Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., one of the members of the bipartisan panel.
Fox News Latino reported Thursday via the Associated Press that the panel reached an agreement on the bill that would include both border security and a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
The legislation calls for surveillance of 100 percent of the U.S. border with Mexico and to catch 90 percent of those attempting to cross in certain high-risk areas. One key provision in the bill states that undocumented immigrants would be eligible to start the process to earn citizenship in 10 years; however, that is contingent upon a new southern border security plan being enacted. In addition, the bill calls for employers to use E-verify systems to check the immigration status of employees and a new hi-tech exit system to be installed at airports and seaports across the nation.
The bill would also provide up to $3.5 billion in federal funding for the Department of Homeland Security in order to set up a five-year plan dedicated to beefing up security at the border.
The bill's completion and announcement has been highly anticipated since last week, when the AFL-CIO and U.S. Chamber of Commerce came to an agreement on a wage issue involving a guest visa program for low-skilled immigrant workers. Once a major stumbling block, the two sides' agreement on the issue cleared the biggest hurdle standing in the way of a long-awaited bill that would bring about comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S.
As the deliberations took place behind closed doors on Wednesday, thousands converged from around the U.S. in Washington in a pro-immigration rally to urge Congress to pass a bill reforming immigration laws.
Ben Monterroso, national director of civic participation of the Service Employees International Union, which represents nurses and lower-wage employees including janitors and child care workers, told CBS News, "We won't win immigration reform just coming to Washington. We need to walk the streets all over the country."
Menendez, who spoke at the rally, that he was certain that the bipartisan bill would become law by the end of 2013.
"It is in the nation's interest, in the economic interests of the United States and in the security interests of the United States," said Menendez, who spoke in English and Spanish.