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Senator introduces his proposal for immigration reform

Florida Senator Marco Rubio released an introduction to his forthcoming proposal for comprehensive immigration reform earlier this week. He emphasized that his approach would "modernize" American immigration policy by focusing more resources and visa availability for those seeking a path to citizenship through employment-based immigration and merit-based immigration. In addition, the plan will allow certain undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S. to become citizens through a permanent residency provision.

Rubio voiced concerns during a Wall Street Journal interview, saying: "I don't think that in the 21st century we can continue to have an immigration system where only 6.5% of people who come here, come here based on labor and skill. We have to move toward merit and skill-based immigration."

In support of this vision, Rubio's plan aims to expand the nation's skilled workforce through immigration and allow immigrants to continue to support the agricultural industry in various ways.

The nuts and bolts of the plan would include increased caps for those wishing to stay in the United States for certain skilled labor positions. In addition, undocumented immigrants would be required to earn a version of legal status, though the details surrounding this element of the plan remain vague at this time. On a practical note, Rubio also wants to initiate an e-verify database for employer use when determining an applicant's legal status.

The Rubio plan is the first comprehensive approach to be introduced during this legislative session. It will be interesting to see how both Congress and the president react to the proposal and whether they will seek to build upon it, endorse it, revise it or dismiss it.

Source: CNN, "Rubio lays out proposal to 'modernize' immigration," Jan. 14, 2013

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