Immigration reform 101: How does Senate plan address four big questions?

After months of closed-door negotiations, the Senate’s bipartisan “Gang of Eight” offered a legislative summary of its proposal for comprehensive immigration reform. Here is how the Senate gang handled the four hottest immigration flashpoints: border security, legalizing the roughly 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country, changing or establishing the programs under which future workers can come into the country, and how to better shape the family-based immigration system.

1. Border security

Jorge Duenes/Reuters/File
People stand at the border fence between Mexico and the US in Tijuana, Mexico, earlier this year.

The senators offer up $4.5 billion to help secure the US-Mexico border ($3 billion) and to improve fencing on the border ($1.5 billion). The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has six months to develop a plan for each task. The goal is to deter or capture more than 90 percent of potential border-crossers in certain key zones.

These zones are called “high risk border sectors” and are defined by having more than 30,000 apprehensions per year. In 2012, there were three such zones. In 2005, eight of the nine southern border sectors were deemed "high risk."

If that 90 percent "effectiveness rate" has yet to be reached within five years, Congress would offer up another $2 billion and the president and congressional leaders would appoint a commission of southwest border governors and security experts to help determine a way to get to 90 percent during the next five years.

In addition, DHS is required to implement a mandatory system for employment verification known as E-Verify in all businesses throughout the US, and it would need to electronically track who enters and exits the country at seaports and airports. The current system tracks only those who enter.

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