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Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) laughs with (L-R) Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) as they announce a compromise on immigration legislation between the White House and the Senate.
Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) laughs with (L-R) Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) as they announce a compromise on immigration legislation between the White House and the Senate. Kennedy was key in negotiating the compromise language in the bill, which President Bush is expected to sign. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Senators have reached a bipartisan deal with the White House on enacting an immigration overhaul. The measure would include procedures for border security and stronger employer sanctions, as well as a new emphasis on legal immigrants who rely on work visas as opposed to family visas.
The deal, which was hammered out by a bipartisan group of senators and administration officials who have been meeting behind closed doors for the past several weeks, would also create a complex path to citizenship for some of the estimated 12 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally.
Last year's Senate bill also contained a path to citizenship, which conservative critics labeled "amnesty."
The measure negotiated this year takes a tougher approach. It would require illegal immigrants to pay a fine, pass a background check, and learn to speak English. Then, after a probationary period that could be as long as eight years, they would be eligible for a green card.
"I think this is a tough, fair and practical solution to one of the most important national security issues that faces our country today," said Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), "and I'm thankful that I have the colleagues behind me that were willing to work so hard on this for the last several months."
Republican Sen. Arlen Specter says the plan is already being attacked, from both the left and the right. The Senate plans to take up the bill Monday.