"Gang of Eight" senators unveil immigration bill

"Gang of Eight" senators unveil immigration bill

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WASHINGTON -

Legislation that would create a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, overhaul the legal system and beef up border security was introduced on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

The bill says that illegal immigration has, in some cases, become a threat to national security and that strengthening the laws will help improve the nation economically, militarily and ethically.

The Homeland Security Secretary says her agency would like to focus their resources on other crimes.

The 844-page immigration reform bill, put together by the "Gang of Eight" senators, was unveiled around 2 a.m. on the Senate floor.

"We're undergirded by the fact that Americans will be fair, balanced for common sense," said Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Senators placed a series of conditions on the bill.  On of those, requires the Department of Homeland Security to spend up to $6.5 billion over the next decade to enforce and secure the country's southwest border.

Secretary Janet Napolitano testified on Capitol Hill, saying immigration reform will help Homeland Security keep Americans safer by shifting resources.

"Then we can more carefully focus our resources at the border on the narco traffickers and the human smugglers and the like, who we would like to focus our law enforcement resources on."

A plan for securing the border would have to be in place before any immigrants here illegally would be able to apply for provisional status.

"Quite frankly, the two main drivers of illegal immigration are work and the other is we've made it so difficult to immigrate legally," said Napolitano.

President Obama says the bill is in line with his principles.

"My hope is, not only that we are -- end up with an immigration bill that shows that we're a nation of laws and a nation of citizens."

The White House expects the bill to evolve.

"Have you ever seen a bill of this size go from inception to a president's desk unaltered? So we'll see where this goes," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

The process begins formally with a judiciary committee meeting hearing on Friday.  The Gang of Eight senators say their goal is to have a vote on the Senate floor by late May or early June.

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