Mexico hails U.S. immigration reform plan

Mexico City, Apr 17 (EFE).- The Mexican government on Wednesday hailed the presentation in the U.S. Senate of an immigration reform bill supported by President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to visit the Aztec nation early next month.

"It's a positive step that a comprehensive immigration reform proposal has been formulated with bipartisan support and contributions from diverse interested U.S. actors," said the Foreign Relations Secretariat in a statement.

"As the U.S. legislative process moves forward it will be fundamental for the contributions of immigrants to be valued and for respect for their rights to be ensured, and to seek to take full advantage of the social links and the complementary economic elements in the United States," the secretariat said.

The Mexican government said that it "will closely follow the debate, within its scope of action, and will strengthen ... communication and the circulation of objective elements on the matter."

The bill, which was finalized on Wednesday by the bipartisan so-called "Gang of Eight" senators, was formally presented in the Senate and includes significant modifications to U.S. immigration policy.

The measure will not provide amnesty for the more than 11 million undocumented people living and working in the United States, many of them for decades.

Among its other elements, the plan sets forth a period of 10 years for the legalization of the undocumented immigrants and an additional $8 billion for border security, and it punishes companies that knowingly hire undocumented workers.

The plan establishes a period of 10 years for the Department of Homeland Security to verify border security before beginning a plan to legalize the undocumented immigrants.

Mexico said that "the approval of comprehensive immigration reform would have the potential to strengthen the entire region."