Just as the U.S. Senate adjourned at the end of September to allow members to prepare for the upcoming midterm elections, Senator Robert Menendez, (D-N.J.), and Senator Orrin Hatch, (R-Utah), both introduced immigration reform bills aimed at dealing with the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
Senator Menendez, who is not up for reelection this year, quickly picked up a co-sponsor for his bill, S-3932, the “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010″ — with Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont).
Senator Menendez’ proposed legislation provides a pathway for the undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. to achieve legal status, but not before (i) registering with the federal government, (ii) paying back and current taxes, (iii) learning/perfecting their English, (iv) paying outstanding fines and (v) undergoing criminal background checks.
The bill also includes AgJOBS, a bill to benefit immigrants who do agricultural work, and the DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented immigrant youth who commit to college or the military the right to permanent residency.
The Menendez bill also attempts to prevent the creation of bills similar to the highly controversial legislation passed in Arizona ( SB 1070) by restating explicitly that states do not have the right to enact their own immigration laws.
Senator Hatch’s proposed legislation, known as the “Strengthening Our Commitment to Legal Immigration and America’s Security Act” seeks to require participation in key law enforcement programs, clamp down on identify theft, streamline our visa system, track the amount of welfare benefits being diverted to illegal immigrant households, curb serious abuses of our immigration laws and help prevent Mexican cartels from using our national parks and federal lands to grow marijuana and other illegal drugs.