Posted at: 01/28/2013 6:48 PM
By: Brittany Lewis
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Monday, a group of bipartisan U.S. Senators announced a sweeping overhaul of our country’s immigration system.
"It's very hard to see people not able to accomplish their dreams because they soon find out they're not legal here,” said Marco Loera, a youth leader at Centro Campesino, a Latino-led grassroots organization.
It’s estimated that 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States. And for the first time in years, a bi-partisan group of eight senators announced a plan.
"First step in a significant process,” said Republican Senator Marco Rubio.
"This will be the year it finally gets done,” added Democrat Senator Charles Schumer.
The plan has some specific proposals: improve the employment verification system, allow more low-skilled workers in the country, increase border patrol, and create a path for citizenship for those already in the country.
“There are undocumented people that have lived here almost their whole life and they are an intricate part of our community and without them our community wouldn't be the same and so it's important for us to provide the pathway to citizenship to keep them here,” said Jeffrey Jurewicz, Centro Campesino Organizer.
The plan would require undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to pass a background check, pay back taxes, and then go to the back of the line of the immigration process.
"What this plan is to let people who enter illegally yes, eventually after that probationary period, people gets legal status and the green card, but you don't want them to be in front of the line because that would somehow encourage people to just jump the fence, come in do the probation and then suddenly you are in front of the others who have done it the right way,” said Catherine Bauer, an immigration lawyer.
Supporters say, while the plan isn’t complete, it’s a step in the right direction.
This reform is just in the beginning stages. It would have to pass through the house. The White House praised the plan. President Obama is expected to announce his plans for immigration reform Tuesday.