A working group of senators from both parties is nearing agreement on broad principles for overhauling the nation’s immigration laws, representing the most substantive bipartisan effort toward major legislation in years.
The three Democrats and three Republicans, who have been meeting quietly in recent months, plan to announce a final agreement as early as next Friday.
The move would amount to the first tentative step toward comprehensive immigration reform after long-standing gridlock on the issue. The new effort was spurred in large part by the growing influence of Latino voters who strongly backed President Obama and other Democrats in November.
Obama has also called immigration reform one of his top legislative priorities and is launching his own public campaign on the issue next week in Nevada. But a significant number of Americans, particularly within the Republican Party, remain opposed to laws that would make it easier for illegal immigrants to stay in the country or obtain legal status.
The senators are expected to call for normalizing the status of the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, including allowing those with otherwise clean criminal records to obtain legal work permits, officials said. The group is also likely to endorse stricter border controls and a better system for employers to verify the immigration status of workers.