U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, among a bipartisan group of senators proposing a far-reaching immigration reform bill, said Tuesday that he feels "very positive" about the measure's chances, calling it a "good, balanced bill."
"A lot of effort has gone into this," Durbin, D-Ill., said in an interview Tuesday afternoon.
A 17-page summary of the compromise was circulated Tuesday, and the bill was expected to be filed late in the day.
The bill would create a means for millions of illegal immigrants to gain citizenship, but they would have to wait 13 years, pay $2,000 in costs over that time and meet other conditions. They couldn't start down that path until the government takes concrete steps to secure the border, according to the summary.
The legislation also would reform the system of issuing visas, creating a new merit-based approach. It also would impose new requirements on employers to ensure they don't hire people in the country illegally. Expenditures on border security and building a fence also would be increased dramatically, according to the summary.
The White House praised the compromise, but senators representing the Quad-Cities withheld judgment, saying they wanted to see the bill itself.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said he would study the details to see that it "avoids repeating the mistakes made in the 1986 reform," when amnesty was granted to 3 million people.
Grassley, of Iowa, said he hadn't seen the bill, but from what he had been told, it "appears to be a good starting point."
Still, he said committee hearings, the first of which are scheduled for Friday, are being rushed and there won't be time to study the bill before then.
"Just reading a 1,000-page bill, let alone studying the impact of a comprehensive overhaul, is practically impossible before the Friday hearing," he said.
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A spokesman for Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., said he would carefully review the legislation when its available.
In a statement, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said he couldn't comment without seeing the legislation, either. But he added he was looking for "commonsense approach" that would pave the way for a long-term solution, yet also "preserve and expand opportunities for American workers so we do not further erode the middle class in this country."
Among the concerns over an immigration deal is the effect it will have on workers in several industries.
As for Grassley's concern over the time to examine the bill, Durbin said the 800-page bill would be available two days before Friday's hearing and over the weekend before hearings on Monday. He said Grassley also could read it before it goes to committee in early May.
"He'll have a whole week back on his Iowa tractor reading this bill and be ready for it," Durbin said.