Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., paid tribute to the late Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy on Monday when he spoke about the bipartisan-backed plan for comprehensive immigration reform.
"If we do succeed, and I think we will, it will be a testimonial to Ted Kennedy's effort years ago that laid the groundwork for this agreement," McCain said. "You will find that this agreement has very little difference from that of the legislation that was led by Sen. Kennedy some years ago."
In 2006, McCain and Kennedy partnered to push their comprehensive immigration reform proposal through the Senate only to see it disintegrate in the House.
The Kennedy-McCain bill would have legalized unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. for more than five years if they passed background checks, demonstrated English proficiency and fines.
In the new bill, illegal immigrants would acquire temporary legal status after the government implements a variety of steps to secure the Southwestern border, such as increasing the fleet of unmanned aerial drones to patrol it. Only after passing a background check, demonstrating English skills and paying back taxes would illegal immigrants then be eligible to apply for permanent legal residency.
McCain and seven other lawmakers including Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have come to an agreement on a framework calling for legislation to establish a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.
Not everyone is enamored with the bill. Roy Beck, the founder of NumbersUSA, an immigration restriction group, denounced it as amnesty and set up a vigorous grassroots lobbying campaign to oppose it.
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