WASHINGTON. - Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress have begun preparations for the dialogue for a comprehensive immigration reform set to begin in January.
"We are confident that with the leadership of President Barack Obama, Congress may prepare a bill for immigration reform that we have waited a long time for," said Eliseo Medina to Efe, who is also the international secretary and treasurer of Service Employees International Union.
"We believe that Congress should take advantage of this moment and listen to the voices of the Latino voters. I feel that this time the immigration reform is for reals," said Medina, who participated this morning in a closed-door meeting at the White House to discuss the current panorama of immigration reform, but did not give any details.
A few hours earlier the Republican from Florida Mario Diaz Balart, who led the so called Hispanic Conference, announced that it has restarted the process of immigration reform in the first of several meetings with leaders of both parties.
"For years both parties have used immigration to create division, but it's time to find a bipartisan solution to this critical issue, and I'm committed to passing legislation to fix our immigration system once and for all, "said Diaz Balart.
After the defeat of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the Republicans have adopted a more conciliatory tone in the immigration field, which now the President of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, has recognized the urgency of responding to the problem of illegal immigration in the country.
Meanwhile Republicans in the Senate have begun to develop a draft alternative to the "Dream Act", which will allow many undocumented students who came to the U.S. at a very young age to legalize their status.
This proposal is similar to what was proposed by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Legislative sources confirmed to Efe.
Rubio has said to the media that his plan was to introduce a bill when he had enough bipartisan support, and criticized "deferred action" as an election move that President Barack Obama ordered in June to suspend the deportation of undocumented students.
The Republican proposal in the Senate would allow the "Dreamers" to obtain temporary visas if they attend college or enroll in the Army, which these visas would not give them permanent residency, but would allow them to work legally in this country.
For now both houses of Congress are barely beginning the dialogue for a possible reform to legalize the illegal population.
Activists like Medina are only seeking that both parties take seriously the urgent task of correcting the tattered immigration system.
Last Wednesday in his first press conference since winning the election, Obama expressed confidence that Congress will begin negotiations on a bill "very soon" after his oath for a second term in January.
"We need to seize the moment, and my expectation is that a bill will be submitted, which the process with Congress will begin soon after my oath," Obama said.
The roadmap for immigration reform that the White House supports includes strengthening border security, "severe fines" for companies that hire and "take advantage" of illegal immigrants, and a "path" to legalization for those without a criminal record and who also meet other requirements.
These requirements include keeping up with paying taxes, learning English, and pay any fine in exchange for having a "pathway" for legalization
Like a similar plan that failed for lack of bipartisan support in previous years, the immigration reform also provides the issuance of visas for the agricultural sector, and for companies seeking employees with high job skills.
Translation : Omar.Martinez@sandiegored.com