April 16, 2013 -- The Senate "Gang of 8" that has been leading the charge on immigration reform has signed off on a comprehensive bill that will be introduced today, ABC News has learned exclusively.
The group of bipartisan senators led by Arizona's John McCain, South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, New York's Charles Schumer and Florida's Marco Rubio came to terms on one of the most contentious elements of immigration reform: border security.
The bill requires "persistent surveillance" of America's southern border and a border security effectiveness rate of 90 percent before allowing undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before Dec. 31, 2011 to apply for legal status, setting them off on a 10-year path to citizenship.
A February GAO report found that Yuma sector already had 100 percent operational control, where as Marfa sector reported only 11 percent operational control of its border miles.
The bill appropriates $4.5 billion to add 3,500 border patrol agents, install surveillance systems, add drones and build more double-layered fencing.
The "pathway to citizenship," which would allow many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants eventually to become citizens, requires immigrants to be free of felony convictions and pay a $500 penalty fee, plus back taxes.
Those who qualify would gain legal status immediately, but go to the end of the line for citizenship. After a 10-year wait, they would then be granted green cards, followed by full citizenship.
A Senate delegation led by Sen. Schumer, D-N.Y., is expected to brief the president later today at the White House, according to sources, but a news conference previously scheduled to announce the reform bill on Tuesday has been cancelled following the Boston bombing.