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Pathway to citizenship begins to take shape

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Congress is getting closer to its first major immigration overhaul in more than two decades. Negotiators are working behind the scenes to have an immigration deal ready when lawmakers get back from break.

It includes a pathway to citizenship that takes 13 years.

"If somebody wants to adjust their status and get on a path to citizenship they have to pay fines, they have to pay back taxes, be subject to background checks and learn English. There are a lot of steps that need to be taken," said Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake.

Over the weekend the so-called Gang of 8, comprised of four Democrat and four Republican senators, cleared a major hurdle with labor and business groups.

They signed off on a guest worker program that could allow tens of thousands of low-skill workers to come to the U.S. for construction, hotel and restaurant jobs.

Mark Webner of Phoenix told CBS 5 he is against the guest worker program.

"We got plenty of regular people unemployed right now. Let's use up the folks that are here before we worry about importing anymore," said Webner.

District 27 Rep. Ruben Gallego believes immigration reform is what's best for this country and it's what's best for the economy.

"What we are trying to do is basically stop the black market, bring people out of the shadows, employ people and get verified background checks to separate people who are just here trying to work from people who are just trying to exploit this country," said Gallego.

Although a plan is moving forward, critics say the actual bill could have a tough time getting through Congress.

"Eight guys in a room saying the border is going to be secure is not enough," said Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Rep. Peter King.

Senators said a vote on comprehensive immigration reform could come as early as May.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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