Key senators to resume talks on US immigration reform

Monday 12 November 2012 11.47
Charles Schumer, left, and Lindsey Graham are to resume talks
Charles Schumer, left, and Lindsey Graham are to resume talks

Two key US senators are restarting bipartisan talks on US immigration reform.

It will include a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country, Senator Charles Schumer has said.

Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press", Mr Schumer, a Democrat, said he has spoken with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and they have agreed to resume talks that broke off two years ago.

"And I think we have a darned good chance using this blueprint to get something done this year. The Republican Party has learned that being ... anti-immigrant doesn't work for them politically. And they know it," Mr Schumer said.

President Barack Obama, re-elected last week with overwhelming support from Hispanic voters, in 2010 called the proposal unveiled by Mr Graham and Mr Schumer a "promising framework" on immigration reform.

But the plan never got off the ground.

Mr Obama's support among Hispanics was about 66% in the election, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling data.

It is estimated there are 12m illegal immigrants in the United States, most of them Hispanics.

The Graham and Schumer plan has four components: requiring high-tech, fraud-proof Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs; strengthening border security and enforcement of immigration laws; creating a process for admitting temporary workers; and implementing a path to legal status for immigrants already in the country.

Mr Schumer said the plan embraces "a path to citizenship that's fair, which says you have to learn English, you have to go to the back of the line, you've got to have a job, and you can't commit crimes".

Many Republican leaders have taken a hard position against illegal immigrants.

Mr Obama's unsuccessful Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, said during the campaign that illegal immigrants should "self-deport" from the country.

Since the election, some influential conservative voices, including television commentator Sean Hannity, have announced support for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the United States with no criminal record.

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, said on Friday that the US immigration system is broken, and that Mr Obama had to take the lead.

Mr Boehner has said he is confident Republicans could find common ground with the president.

The Obama administration announced in June it would relax US deportation rules so that many young illegal immigrants who went came to the US as children can stay in the country and work.

The change would allow illegal immigrants who, among other criteria, are younger than 30 and have not been convicted of a felony to apply for work permits.

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