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A bipartisan group of senators and officials from the Bush administration have been meeting behind closed doors for the last several weeks. They're trying to come up with an immigration bill that would, among other things, put in place a pathway to citizenship for some of the estimated 12 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally. Finding common ground, though, has proved difficult, as NPR's Brian Naylor reports.
BRIAN NAYLOR: Among the toughest is who gets a work visa. The Bush administration has proposed a point system for new immigrants, factoring in issues such as education, what kind of job the immigrant will have and for how long. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he's inclined to support such a program.
HARRY REID: What they're trying to do on this bill is exchange the present situation we have, the present law and regulations we have, and replace that with a point system. You get so many points for having a bachelor's degree, so many points for having a master's degree, and et cetera. I would consider the point system if, in fact, people get extra points for family reunification.
NAYLOR: Republican Senator Mel Martinez of Florida says negotiators are trying to hash it out.
MEL MARTINEZ: What's permanent is permanent two years, three years; bring family, don't bring family, how much family, how many, you know.
NAYLOR: Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott had some qualified optimism that all of the sticking points might be worked out.
TRENT LOTT: My attitude of everybody involved, I think, Republican and Democrat, administration and Congress, is to try to find enough agreements where you can go forward and move a bill through the Senate. But we're not going to let it go forward with a bad product.
NAYLOR: Brian Naylor, NPR News.