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Border security definition remins key in senators' immigration plan

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The Associated Press
Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 6:56 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of senators working to craft immigration legislation is focusing on how to define when the border is secure, one of several contentious issues that could cause the whole deal to collapse, a key Senate negotiator said on Thursday.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., pointed to “serious challenges ahead” as the lawmakers delve into the nitty gritty of border security, how to define a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and other issues such as a guest worker program — something business wants and organized labor has concerns about.

“Make no mistake about it, these are difficult and thorny issues, and all three of us have seen any one of these issues bring previous immigration bills down,” Schumer said at a news conference with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Schumer, Durbin and the other six senators who proposed an immigration bill blueprint this week want assurances on border security before a path to citizenship can begin. President Obama does not endorse such a linkage in his own immigration proposal, and the White House argues that the border is more secure now than it ever has been. But Republicans in the Senate group, including John McCain of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida, say they can't support an immigration bill that doesn't make a pathway to citizenship conditional on a secure border.

What constitutes a secure border remains to be determined.

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