Sen. Menendez Re-introduces Comprehensive Immigration Reform

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WASHINGTON – Senators Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., today announced that they are re-introducing a comprehensive immigration reform bill. The new bill is similar to the version presented by the senator last September, and includes measures to strengthen border security, enhance worksite enforcement of immigration laws, and requirements that the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States register with the government, pay taxes, learn English, pay a fine, pass a background check, and wait in line for permanent residence.  

"The Menendez bill is in marked contrast to the efforts of Congressman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, to pass legislation that would make E-Verify mandatory," Frank Sharry, executive director of the immigration advocacy organization America's Voice told La Opinión. E-Verify is currently a voluntary program that allows employers to check the legal status of potential employees against a federal database.

The bill was also praised by the Immigration Equality Action Fund, which advocates for equality for LGBT immigrants. Among the provisions included in the Senate proposal is the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), a bill to end the discrimination LGBT couples face under current immigration law, which prohibits Americans with foreign-born partners or spouses from sponsoring them for residency in the United States.

The legislation also includes the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for young people who enlist in the U.S. armed forces or receive a degree from a U.S.-based college or university.