A Striking New Consensus on Immigration Reform—Thus Far

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 Yesterday the U.S. Senate set down the path toward the most significant shift in U.S. immigration policy in two generations. It has been more than a quarter century since the last significant immigration legalization passed. In the period since then, immigration laws have hardened and immigration enforcement has expanded beyond what even hardline immigration restrictionists dreamed.

So when a bi-partisan group of senators appeared yesterday on a Capitol Hill stage to declare 2013 the year of immigration reform, they restored a vision of a way forward for many. The senators released a document of guiding principles that provides a path to legal residency for many of the country’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. It also creates avenues for new immigration, while bolstering immigration enforcement at the border and in workplaces. If these principles lead to a bill, as expected, it could transform the social and political fabric of the country.

Yet even as senators yesterday offered a genuine reform outline, with striking new areas of consensus, some worry they also wove into the agreement enough loose strings to cause its unraveling.

The framework released yesterday by four Republicans and four Democrats is a dramatic shift for the GOP. Republicans have repeatedly refused to support what many pejoratively call “amnesty,” demanding first that before creating legal residency for undocumented immigrants, the border must be fully secured.  Read more here.