Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., is working on an amendment requiring the government to demonstrate an ability to apprehend 90 percent of those attempting to enter the country illegally before anyone already present can get a permanent resident green card.
Democrats have been skeptical of proposals along those lines, arguing that they could postpone legalization for years. But after intense discussions on the Senate floor, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and others said they were hopeful of progress.
In addition to border security and a path to citizenship, the bill includes an expanded number of visas for highly skilled workers prized by the technology industry and a new program for low-skilled workers.
Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.