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The Senate's Gang of Eight releases their immigration reform principles

The Gang of Eight

Today, a bipartisan panel of US Senators introduced a legislative framework upon which a future comprehensive immigration reform bill can be built. The plan does not include specific details but does give a good idea of what a reform bill coming out of the senate will look like.

The information in this blog post comes from a report by our friends at the National Immigration Law Center. The original source document can be downloaded here.

A bipartisan panel of US Senators consisting of four Democrats and four Republicans introduced a legislative framework upon which a future comprehensive immigration reform bill can be built. Since it is only a framework, the plan does not include specific details but does give a good idea of what a reform bill coming out of the senate will look like. Their framework contains four pillars:

  1. A road map to citizenship
  2. For most undocumented people, they would be able to apply for "temporary lawful status immediately for an undefined period of time." They could then apply to become citizens after all other non-citizens currently holding green cards have completed their own citizenship applications.

    Applying for citizenship would require immigrants to register with the government, submit to background checks, "pay a fine and back taxes, and demonstrate a 'history of work' in the U.S." If an applicant has a "serious criminal background" they will still be subject to deportation—though no definition of "serious criminal background" is provided in the guidelines. Certain groups would would have shorter waiting periods to apply for permanent residency and citizenship, such as DREAMers and agricultural workers.

    Enforcement
    The authors of this plan have made their road map to citizenship dependent on stricter enforcement, particularly border security. Their plan would continue the current high level of support for Border Patrol and would add drone flyovers of the border region for surveillance purposes. It would also reform border checkpoints, including overhauling the entry-exit system.

    Important to note is that while "securing the border" is a requirement for the road map to go into effect, there are no guidelines or metrics defining what a "secure border" looks like.

    Additionally, the Gang's propsal would tighten oversight of border security activities and include laws to avoid racial profiling and deter the use of force along the border.

  3. Mandatory use of the E-Verify system
  4. E-Verify—a program that requires employers to check the the immigration status of potential employees against an online database—would become mandatory nation-wide for all new hires.

  5. Family Reunification
  6. The proposal calls for an end to the existing three and ten year bar, and would remedy existing visa backlogs. Foreign students seeking a masters degree or a Ph.D in "science, technology, engineering, or math from a university in the U.S. would be allowed to apply for a green card and eventual citizenship."

  7. New guidelines determining flow of future workers into the US
  8. Their guidelines tie the future flow of immigrant workers into the US according to demand for labor. That means there would be a greater influx of immigrant workers during periods of economic growth, and fewer entries during harder economic times.

This is a good place to start the immigration debate in the Senate. We need to make sure that in the coming months, our legislators know that at the end of the day this debate is about 11 million people, and making sure that they are permitted to come out of the shadows and fully integrate into American society, without catches and pitfalls. That is the reform we are fighting for.

12 comments

  • Comment Link Minneapolis Thursday, 06 June 2013 01:21 posted by Minneapolis

    I am an international student, and came here in Dec, 2006. Since then I have tried to maintained my status and have not left this country because I am afraid that if I leave it could be impossible to come back and I would have to leave my dream. I have studied hard and earned some awards for my excellent academic performance, but these do not seem to help me get closer to my dream. It is too hard to find a job let alone an employer who is willing to sponsor. I have, therefore, kept going back to school hopefully to wait for an opportunity to make my dream come true. Unfortunately, this bill does not include foreign students like me. Instead, it would create harsher laws to impose on us. Many of us come to this country with love and hope - HOPE to make our American dreams come true, and LOVE to contribute in the development of the US. After almost 7 years, I have faithfully fallen in love with this country for its rich culture and language. Why is it so hard to be with the country I consider as my second home? Why is it so hard to earn a chance to use my skills and talents for America's benefits?

    Please reconsider the bill and take us into account.

  • Comment Link Rizwana Ashraf Wednesday, 06 February 2013 18:02 posted by Rizwana Ashraf

    To: The "Gang of 8" and the President
    This is my comprehensive solution to Immigration Reform. I feel that for illegal immigrants, the politicians know what they need to do but as far as the legal immigration system, they haven't outlined anything specific. These are my ideas which I can say entail every aspect of legal Immigration.
    1.) Mike Honda's H.R. 1796 should be implemented. It includes things such as moving LPR spouse/children to the Immediate relative category and other ways to unite families.

    2.) Clear the backlog by offering more, many many more visas to those waiting in line. The family based visa bulletin for some countries has Priority dates as far back as 1992. That is ridiculous. If this means offering 500,000 to a million visas per year to clear our backlog in 4/5 years, then do it, because this is only fair.


    3.) CSPA – It prevents from aging out, but what about marital status? It should keep that in mind too. In other words, marriage shouldn’t null and void CSPA. The child (only the derivate child) should be able to obtain their green card if they are determined to be under 21 as per calculations of the CSPA (They then can petition for their family once they obtain LPR status).

    4.) Retention of parents PD - Have children, both unmarried and married who don't qualify for CSPA be able to retain their parents priority date. This is done in the fifth circuit. It should apply to the whole nation.

    5.) F3 category for LPR- LPR can petition for unmarried children over 21 (F2B), but not married children. The F3 visa category should also be petition-able by LPR, because children, whether unmarried or married are still children, parents love them as much and need them just as much as minors or unmarried children. The current situation in which you must be a US Citizen before filing for married children leads to broken families. Once again, marriage should NOT null and void a petition for a derivate child. They say there is not category to transfer married children to for LPR, then make one! F3 should be open to LPR.

    6.) Rights for the legal immigrants - For dependents of those on H1,F1 etc visas, they should be able to work and drive and go to school, etc. If we are offering this chance to the undocumented, why not them? As long as they pay taxes, they should not have so many restrictions and/or lack of rights. This too, will help our economu.

    7.) Student Visas - Student visas should be easier to obtain - As long as the person has an admissions letter from a university, the funds, and a clear background check they should be able to attend school here in the USA. In addition, they should be able to work on/off campus and more then 40 hours per week so long that they keep their grades up. Sometimes this is what causes them to become illegal. They aren't allowed to work and therefore don't have money to keep attending school, so they drop out of school to work and have living expenses/necessities such as eating. As far as being a potential immigrant - if we implement our entry/exit system then we shouldn't have to worry about potential immigrants because they would be caught if staying here after graduation.

    8.) Making a better, more efficient, electronic system – Canada is currently revising their immigration system and has planned to clear their backlog within 2/3 years. We as the great nation can do the same; it’s about a matter of choice. We should make an electronic system of filing petitions which automatically assigns PD, etc. on the spot as soon as you hit submit, because right now you file this year, get a receipt of acknowledgement that you application has been received in 1-2 years, then a PD of 1-2 years after that. We need a system modeled after how the DS-160 system works for those wanting visitors/business/student visas. They submit a form online and two days later they have a scheduled interview. This will allow a more efficient, streamlined system. We might not even need as many USCIS employees then. Mailing forms in, is oldschool.

    9.) Appeals/Motions etc. – One of the most daunting tasks is filing for appeals or motions to reopen. A fight for justice can be so costly and time consuming. Take my example: My mother filed for 3 of her siblings in 1998, they all got different PD and cases went to different centers, in 2009 2 of the 3 cases got accepted and one denied, and now making a motion to re-open is costly and uncertain. What if they have to be at the back of the line again? Is this what we call a fair process? Why does it take a judge or going to court for someone to figure out the right thing to do? As long as you filed a petition, were given a PD, and submitted the documents required, your case should not be denied. Denying cases is not justice. Because filing another petition after denial and adding on another 15 year wait from when you started, you get to the finish line 30 years later, really? Definitely a broken and unfair system.


    10.) Tourist visas – Make these easier to get. Once again, if we have an electronic, well established entry/exit system, we don’t have to worry about potential immigrants. Tourist will help our economy. We should learn from Dubai on this one.
    Lastly I would like to say, some defendants of immigration reform keep mentioning how the undocumented will "have to earn legal status" or how they will "be at the back of the line"
    Well while in line, they still have the right to live and work in the USA, and the chance to earn a green card via school/military, even with their “temporary” status, they have a functional equivalent of a green card. So that is still unfair compared to the dish being served to those in the waiting line. It’s almost like we are rewarding them for breaking the rules/laws. Those waiting in backlogs in their home countries can't work/live or even enter the USA if a petition is pending, or those who are in limbo here in the US waiting years for their green card aren't able to be in school, their dependents sometimes can't work or drive, etc. These candidates already in line (in the US in limbo or outside of US in the backlog) should also then get "temporary legal status" so they too can gain a chance to "earn" their green card, reside here, work here, get driver's licenses, be able to attend school, and earn a green card by joining the military/school. That would only be fair; to give “temporary” work/living capabilities to those on the backlogs as well. Keep everyone on the same level and give everyone the same chance, to live and work in the US. So this isn’t about 11 million, it’s about 15.5 million.
    If President Obama holds dreams of his father close to his heart, these people in limbo, waiting in or outside the US have dreams too. Not everything should be thought about politically such as how many people should we let in per year, trying to gain the Latino vote etc. something’s have to be thought about with our heart about what’s fair or not. Because had people not through with their heart on giving people a chance, well perhaps we wouldn’t be a nation today had the native Americans called us immigrants and made us wait in line, got us deported, or were unfair. Not everything is about worldly affairs or analysis, something’s are about the goodness, kindness and fairness, instilled in our hearts and sometimes it takes a common man to remind us all that it’s not about politics, it’s about lives, justice, peoples and dreams.
    Make these revisions along with what you have planned for the undocumented and the whole nation will remember you as heroes and be on your side. History books will gloat about you and you will leave a legacy for you great grandchildren to be proud of. Because ten years from now, you may not even be a politician anymore, but ten years from now there might be people still waiting in that backlog.

  • Comment Link Jeffrey Pescao Sunday, 03 February 2013 11:06 posted by Jeffrey Pescao

    I would like to know any updates regarding the inclusion of visa re-capture in the new Immigration Reform Law that will be passed in the US congress this coming months, and what would be its effect on the immigrant hopefuls who wanted to work and migrate in the US from India, Philippines and alike. Thank you.

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