A Look at the Senate’s Bipartisan Plan for Immigration Reform

By Artur Radetskiy

A group of eight United States senators, four Democrats and four Republicans, including New York’s own Chuck Schumer (D), has revealed a plan of four pillars designed to reform the U.S. immigration system.

The first pillar simultaneously focuses on illegal immigrants that are already living in the U.S. and the increase of border security. The legislation will increase the number of unmanned aerial vehicles and the amount of surveillance equipment used by Border Patrol as well as increase the number of agents working to secure areas between ports of entry. [1]

This legislation will also make it mandatory for the 11.1 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S. to register with the government. This will allow the government to perform background checks. The immigrants will have to pay fines and back taxes, which are taxes that they would have paid if they were living in the U.S. legally. [1]

A person will be deported if during the background check, the person is found to have a significant criminal background or has committed a serious criminal offense. The individuals who pass the background check and pay the fines and back taxes will be given probationary legal status, allowing them to live and work in the U.S. legally. [1]

Individuals with probationary legal status will then have to “pass an additional background check, pay taxes, learn English and civics, demonstrate a history of work in the United States, and current employment, among other requirements,” in order to apply for permanent residence and eventually earn a green card. [1]

Some individuals, however, will not have to meet the same requirements to become permanently legal residents, including minors.

Workers in the U.S. agricultural industry will also go through a different process and have to meet different requirements because they have contributed to the U.S. food supply.

The second pillar of the reform focuses on encouraging “the world’s best and brightest” to come to America. The current immigration process makes it difficult for even the most talented immigrants to come to the U.S. This new legislation proposes that immigrants will be given a green card if they have received a P.h.D. or Master’s degree from an American university.

The third pillar concentrates on preventing illegal immigrants from working. An employment verification system will be created. A potential employee will have to show their legal status and identity using an electronic verification system prior to being hired. Employers who knowingly hire illegal workers will face fines and criminal penalties. [1]

The fourth pillar aims to protect American jobs and allow immigrants to come to the U.S. when employees are needed. If an employer can show that they have attempted and failed to hire an American worker, then the employer can hire an immigrant. The legislature intends to allow more immigrants into the U.S. when workers are needed and allow fewer immigrants when workers are not needed. [1]

Many praise the plan’s increased border security. “We need more security,” said Vivian Ye ’15. “It’s important to be cautious and aware of what’s going on outside of this country.”

Others believe that the plan does not go far enough to help illegal immigrants living in the U.S. Mary Cao ’14 commented, “It is great that there is a bipartisan plan to address this issue, and finally a solution for illegal immigrants in the U.S. However, the period to attain citizenship still seems too long.”

As bipartisan reform talks continue, the controversy over changing the already disputed policy will increase in intensity. In a school with a diverse population, with many members of the community having immigrated to the U.S., students are bound to be very opinionated on this topic.

[1] (@Jordanfabian), JORDAN FABIAN. “Transcript: Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.” ABC News. ABC News Network, 28 Jan. 2013. Web. 06 Mar. 2013.

http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/News/transcript-bipartisan-framework-comprehensi ve-immigration-reform/story?id=18330912


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