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May 10, 2013

Immigration Bill Survives its First Tests

A bill that would create a path to citizenship for people who immigrated to the U.S. illegally faced its first test yesterday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senators are debating amendments and marking up the bill. If it passes the Senate, the bill will go to the House of Representatives and if it passes the House, it will go to President Obama who would sign it into law.

The legislation was introduced by the so-called Gang of Eight moderate senators from both political parties.

In its current form, the bill would create a 13-year process by which undocumented immigrants could receive citizenship, so long as they also pay a fine and pass a criminal background check among other things.

Besides the path to citizenship, other proposals in the 300 amendments submitted for the bill focus on increasing border security, increasing visa eligibility for high-skilled workers and an allowance for members of same-sex couples to sponsor foreign spouses.

In order to get more support for the bill, members of the Gang of Eight have said that they would be open to changes and compromise on parts of the law.

The markup could go on for two weeks, shifting the Capitol’s focus away from gun control and budget battles.

Warm up questions

1. How does an immigrant become a U.S. citizen?

2. What does it mean to be a citizen?

3. What is an undocumented immigrant?

4. What is a visa?

5. What do you know about the citizenship process in the U.S.?

Discussion questions

1. Do you agree with the immigration proposals? Why or why not?

2. Why are politicians tackling immigration reform now?

3. What requirements should there be for people who want to be U.S. citizens?

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