WASHINGTON -- All of the estimated 10 million to 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States would have to leave the country under a bill introduced yesterday by two conservative Republican senators.
The bill by Senators Jon Kyl of Arizona and John Cornyn of Texas is a tougher alternative to a rival bipartisan bill introduced two months ago that would allow some illegal immigrants to get jobs legally and eventually gain citizenship without leaving the country.
The Kyl-Cornyn bill calls for the creation of a machine-readable, tamper-proof Social Security card that would be issued to every American in the workforce. It would also fund the hiring of 10,000 Department of Homeland Security personnel dedicated to weeding illegal immigrants out of the workforce and an additional 1,000 for detecting immigration fraud.
Companies that hired illegal immigrants would face tough fines.
Additionally, the bill would authorize the recruitment of 10,000 new Border Patrol agents over five years and a $2.5 billion investment in unmanned aerial vehicles, cameras, barriers, and sensors along the Mexican border.
The senators did not give a total cost for the bill, but a fact sheet distributed with their proposal contained partial costs of well over $12 billion.
Cornyn said the bill contained an orderly and dignified way for illegal immigrants in the country to return home.
They would have five years in which to do so. Illegal immigrants who refuse would face fines of $2,000 a year for each year they stayed beyond the deadline.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts and an author of the rival bill, said, ''The mass deportation of illegal immigrant persons as contemplated by the Cornyn-Kyl bill is not a realistic solution, and won't solve the security and economic problems we face."
Proimmigration groups blasted the proposal. Angela Kelley of the National Immigration Forum said it was completely unworkable and massively expensive.
The bill does envisage the creation of a guest worker program. But foreign workers would be allowed to stay in the country for only two years at a time for a maximum of six years and would not be able to bring their families with them. At the end of two years, the workers would have to return home for at least a year.