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Amnesty to take 8 years in immigration plan

| Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, 8:36 p.m.

WASHINGTON — A draft of a White House immigration proposal obtained by USA Today would allow illegal immigrants to become legal permanent residents within eight years.

The plan would provide for more security funding and require business owners to check the immigration status of new hires within four years; the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants could apply for a “Lawful Prospective Immigrant” visa.

The draft was obtained from an Obama administration official who said it was being distributed to various agencies. The official requested anonymity.

The bill is being developed as members in both chambers of Congress are drafting their own immigration measures.

Last month, four Republican senators joined four Democratic senators to announce their agreement on the general outlines of an immigration plan. In the House, a bipartisan group of representatives has been negotiating an immigration proposal for years and is writing its own bill.

White House spokesman Clark Stevens said on Saturday that the Obama administration continues to support the bipartisan efforts ongoing in Congress.

“The president has made clear the principles upon which he believes any common-sense immigration reform effort should be based,” Stevens said. “We continue to work in support of a bipartisan effort, and while the president has made clear he will move forward if Congress fails to act, progress continues to be made, and the administration has not prepared a final bill to submit.”

According to the White House draft, people would need to pass a criminal background check, submit biometric information and pay fees to qualify for the new visa. If approved, they would be allowed to legally reside in the United States, work and leave the country for short periods of time.

They could then apply for legal permanent residence, commonly known as a green card, within eight years if they learn English and “the history and government of the United States” and pay back taxes. That would then clear the path for them to apply for citizenship.

A major requirement for many Republicans is enhanced border security. Their bill calls for an unspecified increase in the Border Patrol, allows the Department of Homeland Security to expand technological improvements along the border and adds 140 immigration judges to process the heavy flow of people who violate immigration laws.

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