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GOP hardliners float legalization alternative as immigration reform debate continues

[JURIST] Unauthorized immigrants who arrived in the United States before an as-yet-undetermined cutoff date would be allowed to apply for permanent residency provided they pay fines and back taxes and learn English under the latest alternative immigration reform [JURIST news archive] proposal advanced by a group of conservative senators Wednesday. Under the plan, those who had been in the country for at least five prior to the cut-off would be bureaucratically favored for citizenship. On the other hand, illegals who arrived after the cut-off date would be ineligible for citizenship while remaining in the country.

Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed a bill [JURIST report] based on the so-called McCain-Kennedy immigration plan [Kennedy fact sheet, floor statement] that would place illegal immigrants in the US since January 7, 2004 on a fast track towards citizenship, so long as they maintain employment and pay taxes. The bill was scheduled for a final vote by the end of this week, but Senator John McCain (R-AZ) [official website] said Tuesday that the bill as presented was unlikely to get the 60 votes needed to overcome the expected procedural maneuverings of GOP hardliners who oppose it as effective amnesty for wrongdoing. AP has more.

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