BOISE -- After weeks of waiting, a bipartisan deal on immigration reform was finally introduced Wednesday morning in the U.S. Senate, and immigration advocates in Idaho say it's a good start.
The Gang of Eight senators that put this legislation together say representatives of all stakeholders were involved in crafting it.
All major players that are involved in this issue are now on board. Literally every major, whether it be business or labor, said Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.
New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer also unveiled the bill Wednesday morning, which would be an overhaul of the immigration system. It would usher in new visa programs for low- and high-skilled workers, require tough new border security, and install a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. Some conservatives call it amnesty. Some immigration advocates says it's unnecessarily punitive.
There are things that immigration advocates have been looking for for a long time to be addressed, said Maria Andrade, a Boise immigration attorney. But of course, there are parts that are not favorable.
Andrade says, in her opinion, this bill doesn't do enough to protect due process for people facing deportation. But she does like the quicker paths to citizenship for young immigrants and workers. All in all, she says it's a good place to start. It is a concrete starting point. It covers lots of different areas and provides a good jumping off point for really good-faith negotiations.
We also heard from families of undocumented workers here in Idaho. They say the elements of the bill that keep families together are especially attractive, like giving people who've been deported the opportunity to come back to the U.S., if their spouses or children are in the country.
We're coming to work to feed our kids, said Martha, who immigrated in 2002. It's extremely important for us.
Desiderio is an undocumented worker. He says he's seen parents deported and families broken up by the current system. We are really unsure leaving our houses and driving... the insecurity of having a normal life.
While that's happening in the Senate, over in the House, Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador is working with another bipartisan group working on an immigration reform law.
Labrador released a statement on those efforts today, saying in part, We believe we will soon agree on a reasonable, common-sense plan to finally secure our borders and strengthen our economy with a tough but fair process that respects the rule of law so immigrants can contribute to our country.