MORNING: A bipartisan group of Senators on Thursday morning revived stalled immigration legislation with several key compromises in guest workers provisions and controversial other matters.
``I think that we are close, very close to a bipartisan agreement,’’ said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), spending the morning in closed door negotiations first in a meeting just with Democrats and then another with Republicans.
Just a short time ago, Durbin made a plea for a deal from the Senate floor.
Durbin told me and another reporter from a Downstate paper after the weekly breakfast for visiting Illinoisans that Democrats are prepared to make crucial compromises in order to get a comprehensive immigration bill on the floor. Elements of a compromise include:
* Heads of households—not entire families—would have to leave the country and then come back to the United States. This was a demand from a group of Republicans.
This would cover, Durbin said, ``those who have been in the country more than two years but less than five years would be required, the head of the household would be required to leave the country to a port of entry and then come back into the United States.’’
``In my mind (it is) a hardship but a minor hardship for a family. They would have three years to do it.’’
*An illegal immigrant would not have to return to their country of origin. ``Trust me, not my idea. It gives peace of mind to some people,’’ Durbin said.
*Guest worker quotas would be reduced.
``We are moving toward tightening that up so there a fewer guest workers allowed each year so that they would be able to move from job to job, to lessen the possibility of exploitation, Durbin said.
Under a provision to be made by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the bipartisan coalition agreed to lower an earlier bid for 400,000 guest workers a year to 325,000 annually.
Also, under Obama-Feinstein, employers would have to advertise for jobs and state they would pay the local prevailing wage, an attempt to lessen the ability of an employer exploiting the labor of an illegal immigrant and to help make the jobs more attractive to American citizens already here.
*There would be a longer path to legal status. Instead of 11 years it might be 13 or 14 years.