Obama working on immigration bill

Jan. 13, 2013 at 12:19 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- President Obama and Senate Democrats will overhaul U.S. immigration in one comprehensive bill instead of a number of Republican-proposed bills, officials said.

The move comes after proponents of immigration reform said Obama should make the issue a top priority in his second term, fearing a delay could result in it being pushed aside by fiscal and gun control battles, The Hill reported.

Senior administration officials and lawmakers said Obama's plan would provide a path to citizenship for most of the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants. He is expected to lay out the plan as soon as his State of the Union address early next month, The New York Times reported Sunday.

As part of Obama's plan, illegal immigrants will not simply be given amnesty. Instead, it would include fines, the payment of back taxes and other steps for illegal immigrants to obtain legal status, the officials said.

It would include a nationwide system to verify legal status for all newly hired employees and create a guest-worker program for low-wage immigrants, the Times reported.

A bipartisan group of senators is also working to introduce a comprehensive bill as early as March with voting in the Senate before August, the newspaper said.

"This is so important now to both parties that neither the fiscal cliff nor guns will get in the way," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D.-N.Y.

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