The first details of an initial proposal by the White House to tackle the nation’s immigration system include an eight-year path to legal residency for illegal immigrants.
A draft of the plan, which USA Today says was leaked to the newspaper by a White House official, proposes the creation of a “Lawful Prospective Immigrant” visa for those living here illegally.
According to USA Today, those who qualify for the new visa could eventually apply for U.S. citizenship:
“The immigrants could then apply for legal permanent residence, commonly known as a green card, within eight years if they learn English and ‘the history and government of the United States’ and pay back taxes. That would then clear the path for them to apply for U.S. citizenship.”
They would also need to pass a criminal background check and would be disqualified if they were imprisoned for at least one year, or a total of 90 days for three or more crimes.
The draft, released late Saturday, elicited a quick response from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who called it “half-baked and seriously flawed.”
“It’s a mistake for the White House to draft immigration legislation without seeking input from Republican members of Congress,” Rubio said. “President Obama’s leaked immigration proposal is disappointing to those of us working on a serious solution. The President’s bill repeats the failures of past legislation.”
Yet White House officials say they are simply planning ahead in case Congress can’t get its own bill together.
“We are doing exactly what we said we would do,” White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said on NBC’s Meet The Press.
“We’ll be prepared in the event that the bipartisan talks going on the Hill, which by the way, we’re very aggressively supporting, if those do not work out then we’ll have an option that we’ll be ready to put out there,” McDonough said when questioned about the leaked proposal.
Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., says he is optimistic that he and his Republican congressional colleagues will be able to have a bill ready by next month.
“The president and those of us working on immigration are working very well. Sens. [Dick] Durbin, [Robert] Menendez, [Michael] Bennet and I met with the president Wednesday, and he agreed to give us the space we need to come up with a bipartisan proposal,” Schumer said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “We’re working well together.”
Schumer is also a member of the group of eight senators; other members of the group include Republicans John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Florida’s Rubio. The group began working on an immigration bill earlier this year.