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Ins and Outs of the Immigration Bill

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), left, speaks during a news conference about the immigration compromise as Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) looks on.
Chip Somodevilla
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Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), left, speaks during a news conference about the immigration compromise as Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) looks on.

The immigration bill shaping up in the Senate would mark a drastic change in four decades of immigration law. The proposal resembles laws in Canada and Australia. Critics are warning of potential pitfalls.

The compromise, by senators from both parties and the White House, would grant legal status to about 12 million illegal immigrants now in the country. But it would put that on hold until new enforcement measures are implemented.

The measure also would allow 600,000 guest workers into the country legally. But they could not bring their families and they could only stay two years at a time, for a maximum of six years.

The bill would shift legal immigration from a system based primarily on keeping families together to one that would be based more on job skills.

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Rebecca Roberts
Award-winning public radio reporter and host Rebecca Roberts is currently a substitute host for NPR News programs including Morning Edition, Talk of the Nation, and Weekend Edition Sunday. Roberts returned to her hometown of Washington, DC, in 2006 to host WETA-FM's The Intersection, a news talk show which had her leading discussions on social, political, economic and cultural trends affecting the Greater Washington area. (The Intersection ended when WETA returned to a classical music format in early 2007.) Before returning to Washington, Roberts hosted Your Call on KALW-FM in San Francisco, a local call-in show covering politics and culture.
Jennifer Ludden helps edit energy and environment stories for NPR's National Desk, working with NPR staffers and a team of public radio reporters across the country. They track the shift to clean energy, state and federal policy moves, and how people and communities are coping with the mounting impacts of climate change.
NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.