The “Gang of Eight” senators released its 844-page immigration bill between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, starting a frantic race by advocates on all sides to study the complex, interconnected piece of legislation.
“This is going to take days to sort out,” said John Miano, a lawyer in New Jersey, and an advocate for American computer workers.
The bill offers a multi-staged amnesty to at least 11 million people, provides green cards to roughly 4.5 million relatives of recent immigrants, and establishes several new pipelines to bring roughly 500,000 white-collar and blue-collar workers into the United States each year.
Advocates for the immigration bill mostly applauded the political deal, but some — such as the constriction industry and gay advocacy groups — urged revisions to favor their sectors.
“A strong manufacturing economy relies on a top-notch workforce … that is why you see more manufacturers than ever before engaging on this issue,” Sen. Doug Oberhelman, chairman of Caterpillar Inc.
“We have stressed manufacturers’ needs, and we look forward to providing further input as the final bill is perfected … we are on the right track and moving forward.”
“We applaud the Senate Gang of 8’s efforts and are very optimistic that we are closer than ever to making history,” said a statement from America’s Voice, a progressive advocacy group for large-scale immigration.
“We will continue to work to improve this bill through the legislative process and ensure a wide and inclusive path to citizenship that will not be endangered by border triggers, will reunite all families – including LGBT families — will treat workers fairly, protect rights, and end the wasteful spending in our enforcement system,” said the group’s statement.
Immigration reform groups slammed the bill as a giveaway to special interests and a blow to American workers.
“We believe that this bill will hurt American workers, taxpayers, students, and voters by both destroying our future abilities to control our borders and by encouraging more illegal immigration into our suffering nation!” said William Gheen, founder of the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.
The bill would provide an amnesty to “11-18 million illegal aliens and …. could result in an additional 5 million green cards being issued in the first 10 years above and beyond the 1.1 million green cards that are currently issued each year,” said NumbersUSA, another group that opposes the measure.
The bill “would result in more than a 50% increase in legal immigration over the first decade after the bill’s passage,” according to the NumbersUSA statement.
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