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Gang of Eight immigration bill to be unveiled as soon as Thursday

The Gang of Eight's draft bill for immigration reform could be released as early as Thursday, but Senate aides indicate that the process of debating the details in the bill in the committee process will stretch an additional few weeks more than anticipated.

The extra time is designed to assuage the concerns of Gang of Eight member Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who has called for hearings and a lengthier process of debate on the measure. Rubio's support could help woo wary Republicans who have entreatied Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy not to "ram" the legislation through the panel and onto the Senate floor.

"Chairman Leahy has agreed to hold a hearing as soon as possible after the legislation is introduced, and has promised to have unlimited debate and amendments during the committee mark-up," said a Senate aide. "Assuming Republican members push for as much time as possible, the committee debate will last through the next recess, giving plenty of time for public debate and review."

Congress is back from its next recess during the week of May 6.

The aide said the legislation will be unveiled "soon."