A plan by President Barack Obama for an overhaul of the immigration system would put illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship that could begin after about eight years and would require them to go to the back of the line behind legal applicants, according to a draft of the legislation that the White House has circulated within the administration.
The draft says none of the 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the country would be granted permanent resident status and given a document known as a green card until the earlier of two dates: either eight years after the bill is enacted or 30 days after visas have been given to everyone who applied legally.
The plan includes a shortened path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children, said an administration official who agreed to discuss the details only on the condition of anonymity.
In many cases, those young people could apply for green cards as soon as two years after the law was passed.
The disclosure of the document’s existence, by USA Today on Saturday, set off a series of political recriminations and questions on Sunday about Obama’s promise to allow bipartisan congressional talks to take precedence.
The furor also offered new evidence that Republicans could use the president’s direct involvement as a reason to reject a potential compromise. NYT