Senate "Gang of Eight" presents immigration bill

Washington, Apr 17 (EFE).- Four Republicans and four Democrats on Wednesday formally presented in the U.S. Senate their immigration reform bill, which is supported by President Barack Obama.

"Our immigration system is broken and it is time for a national conversation about how to fix it. We believe common-sense immigration reform is vital in order to secure America's borders, advance our economic growth, and provide fuller access to the American dream," said the so-called Gang of Eight, including Florida Republican Marco Rubio, in a statement.

"Our bipartisan proposal is a starting point, and will be strengthened by good-faith input and ideas from across the ideological spectrum. We look forward to multiple Senate hearings on this bill, an open committee process with amendments, and a full and fair debate in the Senate," the senators added.

On Tuesday, Obama expressed his support for the immigration bill that has been under negotiation for months and called for its rapid approval in Congress.

"I urge the Senate to quickly move this bill forward and, as I told Senators (Charles) Schumer and (John) McCain, I stand willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that comprehensive immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible," said the president in a statement released by the White House.

According to Rubio's office, the bill contains the most severe border control measures in U.S. history.

The bill's supporters emphasized that the measure will not provide amnesty to the more than 11 million undocumented foreigners living and working in the United States, many of whom have been here for decades.

According to the explanation given by Rubio's office, no undocumented immigrant will be able to request a temporary visa until the security plan and the border fence is in place.

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.

The reform bill was crafted by Democratic Senators Bob Menendez, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer and Michael Bennet, and by Republicans John McCain, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio.