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Border & Immigration

Lawmakers Draw Lines In Emerging Immigration Debate

Competing blueprints for immigration reform are emerging. Both political parties agree the system is broken, and legal immigration is vital to our future. The devil is in the details.

First up, a White House outline, put forward over the weekend during a conversation with The New York Times. The Obama administration’s stance is a classic comprehensive package that doesn’t stray too far from the President's 2011 blueprint.

The controversial heart of the package, and argument, was expressed by Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York:

“The Democrats have made it clear we will not accept a bill without a direct path to earned citizenship.”

A bill without a direct pathway for 11 million undocumented citizens living in the U.S will not receive support from the Democrats or President.

Of course, the exact meaning of the word “direct” is still up for debate.

On the other side of the aisle support is building around Hispanic Senator Marco Rubio’s piecemeal approach. Piecemeal means that lawmakers would tackle a comprehensive “package” of bills, four or five, separate bills, rather than a sweeping mandate, like ObamaCare.

But when it comes to that beating heart of immigration reform (what do we do with all these people already here?) how “direct” is Rubio’s vision? Via, The Wall Street Journal:

"Here's how I envision it," he says. "(Adults who over stayed their visa or snuck in) would have to come forward. They would have to undergo a background check." Anyone who committed a serious crime would be deported. "They would be fingerprinted," he continues. "They would have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, maybe even do community service. They would have to prove they've been here for an extended period of time. They understand some English and are assimilated. Then most of them would get legal status and be allowed to stay in this country."

Is that plan clear enough? What's not clear, is if Rubio's plan to eventually grant "legal status" also offers a "path towards citizenship." That may be at the heart of the upcoming debate.