Plans advanced by senators, Obama offer hope for immigrants

  • President Barack Obama speaks about immigration at Del Sol High School, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Francisco Olivares, a 38-year-old undocumented immigrant who lives with his family in Sebastopol, has a lot riding on the promises of a president.

Two years ago, during a traffic stop, Olivares ended up in jail because he could not produce valid U.S. identification. That in turn landed him in the hands of federal immigration officials, and he's faced a deportation order ever since.

But Olivares, the father of four U.S.-born children, said he has cause for hope. He said a plan by a bipartisan group of senators to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, announced Monday and lauded by the president on Tuesday, could change his life.

"It would be a blessing for me and my family," Olivares said, speaking in Spanish. "Especially for me, because I'm now facing deportation."

President Barack Obama, speaking Tuesday at a high school in Las Vegas, said he would hold off on introducing his own immigration proposal and give senators a chance to get their bill through Congress.

But he warned that if such a bill got bogged down in Congress he "will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away."

Obama's proposal, outlined in a fact sheet, was very similar to the bipartisan Senate proposal. But Obama's plan would give U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents the ability to seek a visa for a committed same-sex partner. The president's plan also would not link the pathway to "earned citizenship" to tougher border security.

The senate proposal, made by a bipartisan group of six senators, would:

Create a "tough but fair" path to citizenship for illegal immigrants that is contingent on greater border security.

Create a fast and reliable electronic employment verification system and impose stiff fines on employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers.

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