The White House and high-profile Senators reached an agreement on an immigration plan to allow amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants.
Estimates of the number of persons currently residing in the U.S. illegally reach as high as 12 million.
In addition to the amnesty proposal, a new class of guest worker would be granted temporary residence in the U.S., once new security measures were completed.
The deal would create a temporary worker program, strengthen border patrols and be on increased guard against employers who hire illegal immigrants.
The proposal is — like much of today's legislative deals — complicated. The proposal would permit illegal immigrants to receive a "Z visa." By paying fees and a $5,000 fine, they would be put on track to receive permanent residency, which could take 8-13 years.
Heads of households would have to fiirst return to their home countries before starting in the program.
New, low-skilled guest workers would be allowed to live in the U.S. in two-year periods. They could renew their visas twice, but would be required to leave for a year in between each time.
If they wanted to stay in the U.S. permanently, they would have to apply under the point system for a limited number of green cards.
Republicans and Democrats both had reasons to criticize the proposal. Republicans believe the deal could be too easy on illegal immigrants. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the deal would be unfair to those who have lived and worked in the U.S. legally for many years.
Potential presidential candidate Fred Thompson said the proposal would not provide sufficient border security.
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, and Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and potential presidential candidate, have denounced the proposal, with Gingrich calling it "a sellout of every conservative principle." Debate on the proposal will begin soon.