Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Overhauling the U.S. Immigration System
Our nation is on the brink of a major overhaul of its immigration laws. On June 27, 2013, the U.S. Senate passed an immigration reform bill that proposes creating a pathway to citizenship for a portion of the country's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. The bill also proposes many other changes to the nation's immigration system that many consider to be broken. This legislation's passage in the Senate—which occurred with a strong majority—has allowed the bill to move on to the House of Representatives for review. The bill passed in the Senate 68 to 32, with the votes in favor of the proposed legislation consisting of all the Senate's Democrats and 14 of its Republicans.
The momentum behind the proposed legislation got its start earlier this year. On January 28, 2013, a bi-partisan group of eight senators announced their suggestions for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR).
The senators involved include:
- Chuck Schumer of New York
- Dick Durbin of Illinois
- Bob Menendez of New Jersey
- Michael Bennet of Colorado
- John McCain of Arizona
- Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
- Marco Rubio of Florida
- Jeff Flake of Arizona
If the comprehensive immigration reform bill becomes law, this could mean some significant improvements in how the United States' immigration system functions. America's immigration laws have some of the most complicated and archaic provisions found in the U.S. statues. Over the years, Congress has periodically overhauled the Immigration Nationality Act (INA); however, Congress has had the tendency to focus on one issue at a time, thus resulting in a patchwork of outdated laws that fail to reflect the issues that immigrants face today.
There is a great need for comprehensive immigration reform, and this necessity stems from years of neglect and failure to address weaknesses and inconsistencies in the system, thus resulting in the breakdown of our ability to effectively handle immigration, reunite families, protect our borders from criminals, and foster economic growth and opportunity for those seeking to live the American dream.
Hope for a Broken Immigration System
In the Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform as introduced by Senators Schumer, McCain, Durbin, Graham, Menendez, Rubio, Bennet, and Flake, it says that while border security has improved significantly in recent years, we still don't have a functioning immigration system. This outdated system has created a situation where we have nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants who are living in the shadows. Our lawmakers recognize these realities and are committing the resources needed to modernize and streamline our current legal immigration system, all the while creating a fair legalization program for individuals currently living in the U.S.
The four basic legislative goals are to:
- Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants who are currently living in the U.S.
- Reform the current immigration system to better recognize the importance of those qualities that will strengthen American families and improve the economy.
- Create an employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and put an end to the hiring of unauthorized workers.
- Improve the process for admitting future workers to serve our workforce needs, while at the same time protecting all workers.
Creating a Path to Citizenship for Unauthorized Immigrants in the U.S.
- The new legislation will provide a tough but fair and practical roadmap to address the issue of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. that is contingent upon successfully securing our borders and addressing visa overstays.
- We will need to increase the efforts of border patrol to secure our borders, we will do this by providing Border Patrol with the latest technology, and personnel needed to prevent and apprehend an unauthorized entrant.
- We will increase the number of agents at the border and between ports of entry.
- We will strengthen the prohibitions against racial profiling and the excessive use of force.
- We will require that those who came to the U.S. without permission will have to register with the U.S. government, and individuals with serious criminal histories will be ineligible for legal status and subject to deportation proceedings.
- Individuals with probationary legal status must go to the back of the line of prospective immigrants. They must pass a background check, pay taxes, learn civics and English, demonstrate a work history in the U.S. along with current employment, and fulfill other requirements in order to apply for lawful permanent residency.
- Immigrants present without lawful status will only receive a green card after those waiting in line for green cards at the time the legislation was enacted have received their green cards.
The legislation recognizes that both the circumstances and conduct of people without lawful status varies from person to person, and cannot be addressed identically. For example, those who enter the U.S. as young children didn't knowingly violate the country's immigration laws; therefore, these individuals would face different requirements as others seeking a path to citizenship.
Also, those working in the United States in the agricultural industry without legal status who have been performing arduous physical labor in order to maintain America's food supply while earning meager wages would be treated differently than the rest of the undocumented population. These individuals would earn a path to citizenship through a different process under the nation's new agricultural worker program.
Strengthening American Families
The new immigration system would focus on recognizing important qualities that would strengthen American families and build the American economy. In order to accomplish this, we must reduce the backlogs of employment and family visa categories so that future immigrants can view America's legal immigration system as the only means of entering the United States.
A nation is only as bright as its dreams, and its dreams are dreamt by the world's best and brightest. The immigration proposal would award green cards to immigrants who have earned a Ph.D. or a Master's degree in science, technology, engineering or math from an American university.
The proposal recognizes that most undocumented immigrants come to the United States for the purposes of employment. Therefore, the only way to reduce future illegal immigration is to develop a tough, but fair and mandatory employment verification system. Under the new system, employers would be held accountable for knowingly hiring undocumented workers, and it would make it exceedingly difficult for undocumented workers to falsify documents and obtain employment. Employers who knowingly hire such unauthorized workers would be subject to stiff fines and criminal penalties for serious offenses.
Assistance with the Immigration System at Guerra Sáenz, PL
The current immigration system is a troubled and broken system; however, legislators and politicians are actively working to reform the immigration system so that it is efficient and fair, and provides a streamlined path to citizenship for honest, hard-working immigrants. At Guerra Sáenz, PL, it is our job to stay abreast of all changes in U.S. immigration laws, that way we can provide our clients with the greatest level of service in order to help them reach their goals. We are here to guide you through the immigration process and help you achieve your dreams in America, the land of opportunity.
If you are facing a complex legal issue, do not hesitate to contact our firm, where we have a Board Certified immigration and nationality law expert on our team. Call now!