How Does the Senate Immigration Reform Bill Deal with Our Undocumented Population?
Today, there are approximately 11 million people in the U.S. without status. That will not change unless the law changes. The suggestion that they will self-deport is ridiculous. They have families and roots in our community. This proposal: Links Temporary Status to Security Triggers: No undocumented immigrant is eligible to apply for temporary status until the border security and fencing plan is in place. This is unfortunate reality, but we must insist that the linkage be objective and an achievable criterion. Not the subjective ideological wishes that can lead to a permanent delay in the process and the creation of a second class of Americans. After being in the temporary status for at least ten years, no currently undocumented immigrant can attain permanent residence, much less citizenship, unless the border security, employment verification and exit system triggers have been achieved. Rejecting Amnesty: This isn’t amnesty. Some have suggested we have a de facto amnesty, with the unknown 11 million undocumented immigrants: don’t know who they are, what activities they’re engaged in or anything else about them. Once the first security triggers are achieved, undocumented immigrants will be able to come forward, must submit to and pass background checks, be fingerprinted, pay $2,000 in fines, pay taxes, prove gainful employment, prove they’ve had a physical presence in the U.S. since before 2012. No Federal Benefits: Undocumented immigrants will not be eligible for federal benefits. This proposal will prevent undocumented immigrants from receiving health benefits under Obamacare. Once they are eligible to apply for permanent residence, this proposal stipulates in order to get a green card an immigrant must prove they earn at least 25 percent above the poverty level for their household and are gainfully employed. They will have to verify this at different parts of the process. When they become permanent residents, ten years later, they also are barred from receiving federal benefits for the first five years. Legalization Is Not Immediate, Automatic Or Irrevocable: Their status can be revoked if they commit a serious crime or if they fail to comply with the employment requirement, the public charge requirement (which goes hand in hand with the employment requirement), their tax obligations, and their physical presence obligations. Fairness to Legal Immigrants: For undocumented immigrants who avail themselves of the process outlined in this bill, they will face a longer, more costly and less certain way forward than if they had come legally in the first place. They will have to pay fines legal immigrants don’t have to pay, and they will have to wait until the backlog of legal immigrant applicants is cleared. Plus, undocumented immigrants won’t be eligible for permanent residence until at least ten years have elapsed AND several security triggers are achieved. Not Punishing Children for Their Parents’ Mistakes: Young undocumented people, whose parents brought them to the U.S. illegally or overstayed visas, will be eligible for permanent residence in five years and citizenship immediately thereafter, provided they meet all the prescribed criteria.