Counting on their new majority in Congress, Democratic lawmakers and their Republican allies, are working on measures that could place millions of illegal immigrants on a more direct path to citizenship than a bill passed in the Senate this past year, the New York Times reports.

Lawmakers may abandon a requirement in the Senate bill that would compel several million illegal immigrants to leave the U.S. before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship. Also under consideration is denial of funding for 700 miles of fence along the Mexican border, a law Republicans wrote this year and that passed with significant Democratic support.

Details of the bill, which would be introduced early in 2007, are being drafted. The proposal represents a significant shift since the November elections.

The Senate plans to introduce its immigration bill next month, while the House will consider its version later. President Bush hopes to sign an immigration bill in 2007.

Major lawmakers drafting the legislation include Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and John McCain (R-AZ), along with Representatives Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Luis Guiterrez (D-IL).
-- Alaina Burt