Immigration Overhaul Plan Unveiled By Democrats Senate Democrats rolled out their framework for the comprehensive overhaul Thursday. They say the top priority is to secure the border. They also called for issuing biometric Social Security cards and creating a path for more than 10 million immigrants to become legal. The plan is described as bipartisan, but no Republican co-sponsored the measure.
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Immigration Overhaul Plan Unveiled By Democrats

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Immigration Overhaul Plan Unveiled By Democrats

Immigration Overhaul Plan Unveiled By Democrats

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Here's NPR's David Welna.

DAVID WELNA: But Dick Durbin, the Senate's number two Democrat, says Arizona's move last week taking immigration enforcement into its own hands left Congress no choice but to act.

DICK DURBIN: It's worth quoting what the Arizona Association of the Chiefs of Police have said. Quote: "We strongly urge the U.S. Congress to immediately initiate the necessary steps to begin the process of comprehensively addressing the immigration issue to provide solutions that are fair, logical, and equitable."

WELNA: In their proposal, Democrats acknowledge widespread concern about violence along the U.S.-Mexico border and the need to get things under control.

CHARLES SCHUMER: Our framework is fix the border first, but don't just fix the border.

WELNA: Schumer is now the leading advocate for a new rewrite of those laws. The centerpiece of his proposal is making sure all employees are in the U.S. legally, and to do that it calls for a biometric version of a familiar document.

SCHUMER: Our framework creates a fraud-proof, hi-tech version of the Social Security card every one of us has. New hires must show this card to their employers who will swipe the cards through a machine to confirm their identity and immigration status.

WELNA: California Democrat Dianne Feinstein says they would have to register with the government, pay back taxes, learn English, and go to the back of the line for citizenship.

DIANNE FEINSTEIN: What we have in mind is not amnesty. It's a tough and fair path forward for those who have contributed to American society.

WELNA: Majority Leader Harry Reid says the Republican's stance makes no sense.

HARRY REID: How can you reasonably answer people around the country who are saying fix the system, and then they won't let us fix the system? So we're saying to our Republican colleagues - and I think you've noted the tone here today - we are inviting them to work with us.

WELNA: New Hampshire's Judd Gregg is one of half a dozen Republicans Democrats have been trying to win over. But Gregg's not interested.

JUDD GREGG: There's no point in bringing up any legislation until this administration starts acting responsibly on the border and does its job, which is to secure the border. That's the obligation of the president and the executive branch and they aren't doing it.

WELNA: South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham had earlier co-sponsored Schumer's immigration measure, but he's now withdrawn that support, alleging that Democrats are rushing the issue.

LINDSEY GRAHAM: I think immigration brought up for partisan political purposes is just bad for the issue. I'm not going to be part of that. I'm not playing that game.

WELNA: And House Minority Leader John Boehner declared yesterday there is no chance immigration will move through Congress.

JOHN BOEHNER: And it's nothing more than a cynical ploy to try to engage voters, some segment of voters, to show up in this November's elections.

WELNA: David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol.

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