A broad cross-section of House Democrats unveiled a new comprehensive immigration reform bill Tuesday, laying down an early marker for what they hope will be a major 2010 debate.
More than 80 co-sponsors have already signed on to the legislation, which is authored by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and titled the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009, or "CIR ASAP" for short. The bill includes provisions strengthening border security, creating a streamlined employment verification system, altering the visa program to promote the reunification of families and establishing a commission to recommend changes to the current system of H-1B and H-2B visas for skilled workers.
The measure, a summary of which is available here (PDF), also contains an "earned legalization program" for current undocumented workers, giving them the chance to get legal status if they pay a $500 fine, pass a criminal background check and show that they have made valuable contributions to American society "through employment, education, military service or other volunteer/community service."
Gutierrez and several members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as well as the Congressional Black Caucus and other groups jammed into an overstuffed, sweltering House committee room Tuesday to release the bill and demand action.
Standing before a cadre of activists chanting "Si, se puede," and a group of children wearing shirts that said "future voter," Gutierrez said that years of hard work and negotiations on the issue had brought them "to this bill and to this meeting, which marks the final push toward comprehensive immigration reform."
All through 2009, the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats have repeatedly announced that they are about to begin work on amnesty legislation Real Soon Now. Their unstated goal is to freeze unemployed illegal immigrants in place in the U.S. through April 1, 2010, the date of the Census, by implying that if they go back to their warm homelands this winter to live with their families, they'll miss out on the coming Amnesty.