Senators from both parties presented Monday an initial blueprint for immigration reform in the United States that will include a path to citizenship for some 11 million undocumented immigrants.
"We still have a long way to go, but this bipartisan blueprint is a major breakthrough," New York Democrat Chuck Schumer said at a press conference.
The eight senators hope to officially introduce a bill by March and get it passed by "late spring or summer," he said.
"What we have now is not a 21st century legal immigration system," said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who called for a solution that does not foster illegal immigration but at the same time is not unjust to those who follow the rules.
While Arizona Republican John McCain, his party's 2008 presidential nominee, said this year represents "the best opportunity to approve immigration reform."
The measure presented Monday includes the creation of "a tough but fair" path to citizenship for immigrants whose status is currently illegal.
Besides Schumer, Rubio and McCain, the blueprint is endorsed by Republicans Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona, along with Democrats Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Michael Bennet of Colorado.
The plan would give preference to those who were brought to the United States as children as well as to agricultural workers who for a long time have had to endure some very precarious labor conditions.
The legal framework proposed by the Senate is intended to fix a "broken" system.
Those who have allowed their visas to expire in order to remain in the United States illegally must undergo background checks and pay their fines and taxes before being eligible for a Green Card.
The blueprint includes the creation of a national system for checking on the hiring of foreigners that could lead to charges being brought against employers who try to hire workers "without papers." EFE