US senators unveil immigration reform deal

A bipartisan group of influential US Senators agreed to a framework of sweeping reform of immigration laws to attract the `world`s best`.

Updated: Jan 28, 2013, 21:37 PM IST

Washington: A bipartisan group of influential US Senators today agreed to a framework of sweeping reform of immigration laws to attract the "world`s best and brightest" and include a tough and fair path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.

The framework for immigration reform would include giving Green Card to those having PhD or masters in science, engineering, technology and maths; besides reducing backlog in the family and employment visa categories.

These two measures, announced by a bi-partisan group of eight powerful Senators, could benefit immigrants from India and China the most; who as of now have a much longer -- very often a frustrating wait running into more than a decade.

But it has no reference to addressing the issue of country quota; which is one of the major reasons for Green Card backlog for people from India and China.

Senate`s top-ranking Democratic leaders, Dick Durbin and Charles Schumer; and Senate`s two leading Republican authorities on immigration reform, Marco Rubio and John McCain have signed on to this immigration deal. Four other Senators are in agreement over the framework.

"The United States must do a better job of attracting and keeping the world`s best and brightest. As such, our immigration proposal will award a green card to immigrants who have received a PhD or Master`s degree in science, technology, engineering, or math from an American university," they wrote in the introduction to their five-page framework.

"It makes no sense to educate the world`s future innovators and entrepreneurs only to ultimately force them to leave our country at the moment they are most able to contribute to our economy," the Senators said.

US President Barack Obama is scheduled to announce his vision for a comprehensive immigration reform in Las Vegas later this week.

Recognising that their immigration system is broken, the Senators said while border security has improved significantly over the last two Administrations, they still don`t have a functioning immigration system.

This has created a situation where up to 11 million undocumented immigrants are living in the shadows, they noted.

"Our legislation acknowledges these realities by finally committing the resources needed to secure the border, modernise and streamline our current legal immigration system, while creating a tough but fair legalisation programme for individuals who are currently here.

We will ensure that this is a successful permanent reform to our immigration system that will not need to be revisited," the Senators said.