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Immigration reform measure introduced in Senate

An immigration reform bill was introduced Wednesday in the United States Senate. The proposed measure seeks comprehensive immigration reform with provisions allowing for pathways to permanent residency for undocumented immigrants, a provision implicating businesses and a provision re-introducing the DREAM Act.

The measure introduced Wednesday is similar to a measure that was defeated in 2007. Senator Bob Menendez, the bill's author says he is confident the bill has the ability to attract support from Senate Republicans and hopes the immigration reform measure will allow for meaningful immigration reform debate in Congress.

The bill's sponsors say the debate in Congress on immigration reform is important to the U.S. economy due to the importance of immigrant labor in such sectors as agriculture and the hospitality industry, two important sectors of Florida's economy.

The bill proposes to bolster security at the nation's borders, which the bill's Democratic sponsors believe will help to attract Republican support. The measure would affect businesses as it has a provision to bolster mandatory employment verification through use of the federal E-Verify system.

The proposed measure revives the DREAM Act, offering a pathway to permanent residence for undocumented high school graduates who pursue a college degree or enlist for service in the United States armed forces. The legislation also provides a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants who entered the country before June 1, 2011, have no criminal record, are current with tax payments, learn English, register with the U.S. government and pay a fine.

The Obama administration has shown support for the Senate measure. White House Director of Hispanic Media, Luis Miranda reportedly told Efe Wednesday that the President "has spoken clearly about the need to fix the broken immigration system in a way that responds to the economic and security needs of the United States in the 21st century."

Source: Fox News, "Senate Democrats revive immigration reform," 23 Jun 2011

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