BY ADEYEMI OSHUNRINADE
April 22, 2013
To millions of illegal immigrants in the United States, the Senate bill intended to give legal status meant everything they could ever wish for. Some have seen opportunities slipped away just because of their undocumented status. Many hide in the shadows to avoid deportation and for those with families in the United States, being legal means no more separation, a factor that made it impossible for some to see their families back in their home country, due to fear they may never return.
The hope of having a bill presented before Congress got damaged last week by unexpected events in Boston. Now that law enforcement and the FBI have control of the situation, many are calling on lawmakers to bring the bill for review and approval of Congress, so that more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the nation can finally know their fate.
Conservative members of Congress opposed to the bill, have argued that the administration put a border security in place before giving what some consider amnesty to those who entered the country illegally by breaking the law. Despite the opposition, the bill has a bipartisan support as both parties have realized importance of coming together to solve the nation’s immigration problems.
The new bill if passed, will require illegal immigrants to have a waiting period of 10 years, before they could apply for permanent residence and an extra 3 years to become a U.S. citizen. In total, a minimum of 13 years to perfect the legal status of any undocumented that qualifies under the new bill.
Some have criticized the bill as trying to punish applicants for breaking the nation’s immigration law, but lawmakers have said, the waiting period is to make sure no one jumped the line, since there are those who have done the right thing by applying for visas in their home country but still waiting for such visas to issue. To allow anyone skip the line would be unfair to those who have followed the normal rules by doing nothing that violates U.S. immigration law.
In order to apply for a green card after 10 years, those who qualify would have to pay $2,000 as penalty, with another $500 due upfront. Illegal immigrant willing to apply must show knowledge of English and civics, and must have worked and maintained continuous physical presence in the country.
As for “Dreamers” or children brought to the country illegally by their parents, they would receive an expedited path to legal status and be able to apply for green card in 5 years. Agricultural workers will also be able to apply for green card in 5 years but as for “Dreamers,” they would be eligible for citizenship immediately after receiving their green cards.
The bill would create a W—Visa program for low-skilled workers and cut the backlog of 4.7 million immigrants, who have applied legally and are waiting for immigrant visas to enter the country as permanent residents. It would create a merit-based program for foreigners to become permanent residents, depending on both high and low work skills.
One aspect of the bill seems sympathetic to those already deported to their native country. It would allow a person who qualifies but deported for non-criminal purposes to re-enter the U.S. as a “registered provisional immigrant,” but to qualify, the person must show he has a spouse or child who is a U.S. citizen or green card holder. However, a person with a “provisional immigrant status,” is not eligible for some social services, such as food stamps or other Federal aids.
Some members of Congress have emphasized the need to have a strong border before implementing the bill, while the Obama administration has said it would refuse any attempt to tie having a concrete immigration law to border security. However, both agree on need to secure the border though, differ on how border security could be carried out.
The new bill mandates border enforcement measures, that would include $3 billion for the Department of Homeland Security, to ensure border surveillance and arrest of illegal immigrants. As part of the bill, The Department of Homeland Security, would have six months to present a plan on border security and while doing so, no illegal immigrant would be able to apply for “registered provisional immigrant” status, until plans to secure the borders are complete.
As part of the measures to prevent flow of illegal immigrants into the country, employers would use an enhanced e-verify system to make sure no one without proper documentation is hired. Noncitizens must show a “biometric work authorization” or “biometric green card,” to be hired.
Answering questions on CNN, Senator Chuck Schumer D-NY, one of the champions of the bill, said Americans would support the bill as long as proper border security is in place, to prevent repeat of the past when same immigration policy was implemented in the 80s. When questioned about the news some illegal immigrants are beginning to enter the country with hope of benefitting from the bill, Senator John McCain, R-Ariz. Said the new bill would only apply to those in the country before December 31, 2011. Anyone after that cut-off date is not eligible under the bill.
Analysts believe those with special visas to live and work in the United States such as G-4, diplomatic visas, and other forms of working visas but no green cards, would not be eligible since in the eyes of the law, such people are not illegal immigrants. They have the legal status that enables them to live and work in the U.S. based on diplomatic and other visa agreements.
Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available at http://www.amazon.com/author/adeyemioshunrinade. Follow on Twitter @san0670.
- New Rules Help Keep Immigrant Families Together (blogs.lawyers.com)
- Immigration reform: A primer (mercurynews.com)
- Eight year path to green cards for illegals in White House proposal (irishcentral.com)
- 40% of Illegal Immigrants Overstayed Visas (breitbart.com)
- John McCain: I refuse to stop saying ‘illegal’ immigrant (tv.msnbc.com)
- Immigration Reform 2013: Pew Research Poll Shows Increasing Support for Stay of Illegal Immigrants; Foreign Investors Can Apply for Green Cards this Summer (latinospost.com)
- Rubio, Schumer to talk immigration (politico.com)
- Getting there (economist.com)
- Obama’s backup plan: Maximum 13-year wait for citizenship (news.yahoo.com)
- Republicans estimate immigration bill could cost taxpayers billions, Rubio challenges claim (foxnews.com)