After a surprising proposal by President Bush calling for immigration policy reform (search), Democrats, seeing an effort by Republicans for Hispanic support this election year, are looking to outbid the president with reforms of their own.

Democrats on Tuesday announced a proposal that offers greater federal protections and a swifter path to permanent citizenship than the one Bush had promised. That included full legal status to all illegals who have been in America five years and pass medical and criminal background checks.

"We find that there are too many immigrants, too many undocumented immigrants that live in fear and live in danger of deportation and also suffer exploitation," said Sen. Ted Kennedy (search), D-Mass.

Numerous polls this year show that a majority of Americans oppose leniency for illegals already here and even more strongly oppose policies that could encourage more illegal immigration (search) in the future.

"There is a total disconnect between both parties and where the rest of America is on this issue, and it's part of an effort from both to pander for votes," said Dan Stein, head of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (search).

Click here to watch a report by Fox News' Major Garrett.