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Southern Tier

Legal look at immigration reform proposal

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Legal look at immigration reform proposal
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Right now it's just a proposal, but the immigration reform plan outlined by eight senators Monday could bring sweeping changes to immigration law. Sarah Blazonis reports.

DEWITT, N.Y. -- The bipartisan group of senators who proposed the latest immigration reform plan for the country aren't the first, but Monday, they said they believe they'll succeed where others have failed.

"For the first time ever, there is more political risk in opposing immigration reform than in supporting it," Sen. Charles Schumer said during a Washington, D.C. news conference.

"If we don't change and reform the immigration law, that'll probably continue because I think it'll be impossible to keep illegal immigrants out of the U.S.," said immigration attorney Craig Nichols.

Nichols has practiced immigration law for 17 years. He says the plan addresses traditionally difficult issues when it comes to illegal immigrants.

"They're also looking at changing the way they allow people who work in agriculture to maybe more easily work in agriculture if they are coming across from Mexico and therefore be able to track the employees," he said.

Securing the borders is another key part of the proposal, but Nichols says the part of that plan which involves getting feedback from people ranking from elected officials to community leaders along the Southwest border is something new.

"That's really one of the first times that we'll see application of something that we'll take for granted 30 or 40 years from now, which is trusted networking, social networking," said Nichols.

Nichols says it will be hard to gauge the plan's potential impact until a bill is finalized and passed, but thinks many would welcome the change.

"They're people with strong values, very, very hard working and very determined to make a better life for their families," Nichols said. "A well-thought out change to the immigration law will help all those folks."

Lawmakers hope the Senate will pass the bill by summer.

The plan would require illegal immigrants to meet several requirements before receiving their green cards. They also wouldn't receive those documents until the people who legally began the citizenship process got theirs. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP