Washington: The draft of a much-awaited comprehensive immigration bill in the US could be out as early as next week, a Senator involved in the process said on Sunday.
The bill is expected to come out with proposals to pave a pathway to citizenships to some 11 million illegal immigrants, increase the annual quota for H-1B; provide quick legal permanency status or Green Card to students from Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) stream; attract best and the brightest from across the world and increase country specific quota for immigrants.
"You asked me if there`s an agreement? The answer is, we`ve been working very hard, and I think we have come to a position now where we have been able to tell our staffs to draft something."
"We need to read that, and that`s what we`re in the process of doing. But I`m very optimistic that we`re going to have something very positive to share with the American people here very, very soon, perhaps as early as this week," Senator Mark Rubio told news channel.
Rubio, the Republican Senator from Florida, is part of the bipartisan group of eight lawmakers who are working on the various aspects of the comprehensive immigration bill and arrive at a consensus to this contentious issue, which has eluded the Congress for decades to address the major loopholes in the current immigration system, which US President Barack Obama describes as broken.
Giving an insight into what is in store in the comprehensive immigration bill, Rubio said it is important to understand that it doesn`t give anything.
"It allows people access to the legal immigration system. Some people won`t qualify. They haven`t been here long enough. They`ve committed very serious crimes, they won`t be able to stay. All people will get is the opportunity to apply for things, to apply for a legal status, which isn`t awarded on day one. I mean there`s a process for that," he said.
"And after some period of time, over 10 years has elapsed, the only thing you will get, assuming that the border is secure, that E-Verify is in place, that an entry/exit system is in place for tracking visas, then the only thing you get is a chance to apply for a Green Card like everybody else does," Rubio said.
The Florida Senator asserted that the bill would not offer general amnesty to illegal immigrants.
In fact, it would offer a tougher path to citizenship. "The existing law allows those that are here illegally to gain access to citizenship. What it says is you have to go back to your country of birth, and you have to wait 10 years, and then you can apply for it.
All we`ve done here is create an alternative to that that they can access. And the alternative we`ve created is going to be longer, more expensive, and more difficult to navigate," he said.
"It would actually be cheaper if they went back home, waited 10 years and applied for a Green Card. We`re not awarding anything. All we`re giving people the opportunity to eventually do, is gain access to the same legal immigration system, the same legal immigration process that would be available to everybody else.
In exchange for all of that, we are going to get the toughest enforcement measures in the history of this country. We are going to secure the border to the extent that`s possible," he said.
"We are going to have an entry and exit system to track visas, because 40 per cent of our illegal immigrants are people that enter legally, and overstay. And we are going to have E-Verify universally, which means you will not be able to find a job in the US, if you are not legally here," he said.