The immigration bill is similar to past proposals, but with a few changes. To get a green card more than ten million illegal immigrants, even those living far from the border, would have to leave the United States and come back legally. They would also have to learn English. Jackson Lee supports a provision that would stop employers from hiring foreign workers if unemployment is higher than nine percent.
"The bill insures that U.S. workers have the first shot at all jobs and that new workers will not displace or adversely affect the wages or working conditions of U.S. workers."
The plan would also boost the number of border agents, allow state and local police to enforce immigration laws and increase penalties for document fraud. The bill has bipartisan support, but Jackson Lee admits it's a tough road ahead.
It is a growing document. And it will reflect what we do in committee, but it gives us the appropriate framework.
And if the bill passes through committees it still must be accepted by the full House and Senate. Jackson Lee wants Congress to pass immigration reform before 2008 election politics get in the way. For Houston Public Radio, I'm Jill Morrison on Capitol Hill.