A broad cross-section of House Democrats has unveiled a new comprehensive immigration reform bill. The bill includes provisions strengthening border security, creating a streamlined employment verification system, altering the visa program to promote the reunification of families and establishing a commission to recommend changes to the current system of H-1B and H-2B visas for skilled workers.
More than 80 co-sponsors have already signed on to the legislation, which is authored by Representative Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and titled the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009. The measure also contains an "earned legalization program" for current undocumented workers, giving them the chance to get legal status if they pay a $500 fine, pass a criminal background check and show that they have made valuable contributions to American society.
Representative Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., was quick to react, saying any bill without a temporary worker program is simply not comprehensive. Meanwhile, Representative Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, predicted the bill won't pass because the American people oppose rewarding lawbreakers, which then encourages even more illegal immigration.