Immigration bill will set eligibility date for U.S. citizenship

April 12, 2013 2:50:27 PM PDT
Immigration reform legislation could be introduced into Congress as early as next week. Among the provisions, an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally would be placed on a path to citizenship.

"To be in this business of legislating, you'd better be patient and you'd better realize you're not going to get everything you want," Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, bill sponsor, said.

The senator was in Chicago Friday to talk to students at the Urban Prep Southside Charter School. After the session, he confirmed that the U.S. Senate will consider immigration reform next week and that a controversial feature of the bill will set a date in the past, after which illegal immigrants will not be eligible for citizenship.

"We will announce a date on Tuesday. It's not one that I would have chosen but it's the result of a compromise," Sen. Durbin.

Sources tell ABC 7 that any adult illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States after December 31st, 2011, would be ineligible. Even immigrant rights advocates agree such a date is necessary to guard against a flood of new illegal immigrants who would complicate the effort to help those already here.

"The point of legalization is to address the situation of people who've been here, who've set down roots, who've been contributing to society," Fred Tsao, Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights, said.

Durbin, who was one of eight senators who wrote the reform bill--is confident that pre-2012 immigrants can prove their eligibility:

"They'll find something: a report card, a utility bill, something that gives them some presence in the United States as of a certain date," Durbin said.