LOS ANGELES — Days before a planned march in Washington, D.C., two U.S. senators announced their framework Thursday for a bipartisan immigration bill that would increase resources for border enforcement, create a biometric Social Security card to prevent forgeries and legalize millions of undocumented immigrants.
Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., laid out their proposal in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, saying that "the American people deserve more than empty rhetoric and impractical calls for mass deportation." The plan also calls for creation of a program to admit temporary workers.
The announcement was praised by President Barack Obama, who pledged Thursday to help translate the framework into a legislative proposal and to continue working "to forge a bipartisan consensus this year."
As many as 50,000 faith, labor and immigrant rights advocates are expected at a rally in the nation's capital Sunday to pressure the White House and legislators to take action on immigration reform. In a media call Thursday, they called upon the senators to introduce a bill in coming weeks and begin deliberations in April. They warned that politicians could see the consequences in the midterm elections if progress isn't made.
"Immigration reform cannot wait another year, another term," said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. "The time is now, and they are marching in D.C. to make that clear."
But with the economic downturn and millions of Americans out of work, opponents said it is even less likely that the public will support the legalization of an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.
"Allowing millions of illegal immigrants to stay and take jobs away from citizens is like giving a burglar a key to the house," Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said in a statement.