A bipartisan group of U.S. senators delayed announcing its sweeping immigration bill Tuesday because of the Boston Marathon bombings, several senators said.
But the Group of Eight still planned Tuesday to file the bill that would overhaul the country's immigration system and put 11 million unauthorized immigrants on a path to citizenship, an aide told The Washington Post and other news organizations.
The eight-member group had planned to lay out the details of the legislation, with support from immigration advocates, business leaders and religious groups, at an 11 a.m. news conference at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington.
But out of respect for the victims of the terrible tragedy in #Boston, we won't be holding the press conf on #immigration reform, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a member of the group, said in a message on Twitter.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., another group member, said on Twitter: Thoughts & prayers are with everyone in Boston. Our bipartisan work on immigration will wait at least a day out of respect for the victims.
All eight senators believed the focus should be on victims, not other issues, a Senate aide told the Post.
McCain and Schumer planned to visit the White House Tuesday to brief President Barack Obama on the legislation, The Hill reported.
McCain, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and other Republican senators who crafted the measure discussed the bill with members of the Senate Republican Conference Monday night.
The measure calls for unauthorized immigrants who arrived in the United States on or before Dec. 31, 2011, to be allowed almost immediately to apply for temporary legal status that would let them live and work in the country.
At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security would be required to monitor the nation's entire southwest border with Mexico -- and catch 90 percent of people trying to cross the border illegally.
We are going to get the toughest enforcement measures in the history of this country, Rubio told ABC's This Week Sunday.
In addition, the senators' plan requires business owners to use the federal government's free, Web-based E-Verify system that checks new employees' immigration status.
Washington also would have to identify each time a foreigner enters and exits the country, USA Today reported.
If those benchmarks are reached, and after 10 years pass, unauthorized immigrants could apply for a green card, which grants permanent legal status. If approved, they could apply for U.S. citizenship three years later.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who appeared on This Week after Rubio, said he was not convinced by his colleague's pitch.
I know Senator Rubio's heart is exactly right, he told the program. "And I really respect the work of the Gang of Eight. But they have produced legislation, it appears ... that will give amnesty now, legalize everyone that's here effectively today, and then there's a promise of enforcement in the future.
Even if you pass laws today that appear to be effective, it doesn't mean they're going to be enforced, Sessions said.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Sessions is a member, has two hearings on the bill scheduled for Friday and Monday.