Senate group wraps up work on immigration bill framework

Four Democratic and four Republican senators have reached agreement on all the major elements of sweeping legislation to remake the nation's immigration laws, and expect to unveil the bill next week, lawmakers and aides said Thursday.

After months of arduous closed-door negotiations, senators had no issues left to resolve in person, and no more negotiating sessions were planned. Remaining details were left to staffers, who were at work completing drafts of the bill.

"All issues that rise to the member level have been dealt with," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement. "All that is left is the drafting."

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said the bill probably would be introduced on Tuesday.

The landmark legislation would overhaul legal immigration programs, crack down on employers who hire people who are here illegally, boost border security and put 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally on a path to citizenship. A top second-term priority for President Barack Obama, it would enact the biggest changes to U.S. immigration law in more than a quarter-century.

Deals gelled over the past day on a new farm worker program and visas for high-tech workers, eliminating the last remaining disputes on the legislation.

Next will come the uncertain public phase as voters and other lawmakers get a look at the measure.