5.19.2007

Summary of the Immigration Reform Proposal

The Proposal

- Illegal immigrants could obtain "Z visas" that would allow them to stay in the country.

- Heads of households would have to return to their home countries and reapply for proper visas.

- They would have to pay $1,500 fees and $5,000 fines to get on the path to permanent residency.

- Skills, education levels and job experience would weigh more heavily than family ties.

- A temporary worker program would be launched allowing people to enter the country for two years.

- The Border Patrol force would be doubled to 18,000 officers.

- The fence along the Mexican border would be greatly expanded.

What's next?
- The Senate opens debate on the proposal Monday. Expect many amendments.

- The Senate hopes to pass a bill by Memorial Day, a deadline that appears to be optimistic.

- After the Senate passes a bill, the House will draw up its own immigration reform bill, likely in July.

- The bills would have to be blended before one could be signed into law by President Bush.