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In the United States of America, the Gang of Eight is a common colloquial term for the bi-partisan group of eight United States Senators—four Democrats and four Republicans—who wrote the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill. The group was also instrumental in bringing comprehensive immigration reform back to the legislative branch in early 2013.
Collectively, these eight senators wrote the first draft of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (commonly known as “the immigration bill”). In June 2013, the immigration bill passed the Senate with a strong majority—68-32, with 14 Republicans joining all Democrats. The United States House of Representatives under Speaker John Boehner did not act on the bill, however, and it expired at the end of the 113th Congress.
In the context of proposed immigration reform, the Gang of Eight consists of the following four Democratic senators and four Republican senators:
- Sen. Michael Bennet, D–CO
- Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D–IL
- Sen. Jeff Flake, R–AZ
- Sen. Lindsey Graham, R–SC
- Sen. John McCain, R–AZ
- Sen. Bob Menendez, D–NJ
- Sen. Marco Rubio, R–FL
- Sen. Chuck Schumer, D–NY
The policies envisioned by the Senators include the following provisions:
- A path to citizenship path for undocumented immigrants already in the United States is contingent on certain border security and visa tracking improvements. The plan provides for permanent residence for undocumented immigrants only after legal immigrants waiting for a current priority date receive their permanent residence status and a different citizenship path for agricultural workers through an agricultural worker program.
- Business immigration system reforms, focusing on reducing current visa backlogs and fast tracking permanent residence for U.S. university immigrant graduates with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or math also known as the STEM fields.
- An expanded and improved employment verification system for all employers to confirm employee work authorization.
- Improved work visa options for low-skilled workers including an agricultural worker program.