Although it has taken nearly a year, the Republican Party finally has a plan for immigration reform. House Republican leaders have reportedly completed a basic outline that will serve as the guide to crafting a set of immigration bills described as nothing short of revolutionary. One of the biggest talking points? A plan to grant legal status to undocumented immigrants rather than taking the default approach of self-deportation as in the past.
Difficulty of Becoming a Legal Citizen
Instead of deportation, the House wants to present illegal immigrants with a path to gain citizenship; yet many experts wonder how difficult this process will actually be. The plan itself will come under intense scrutiny from Republican leaders, thus giving House leaders a chance to potentially ‘cover their backs’ by making certain prerequisites necessary or making some aspects of the citizenship process incredibly difficult. Then again, the process could end up being so difficult that immigrants will opt not to become a citizen legal and take their chances within living in American as an illegal alien.
What's The Path to Citizenship?
If immigrants want to apply for a Green Card under current law, they must first leave the country for up to 10 years even if their children are U.S citizens. The House could lift those bans, or they could build on the Senate's bipartisan bill that makes a qualifying legalized immigrant wait 13 years before applying for citizenship. Either way, experts want to see a definitive path laid out that will detail every important detail in the plan.
Will Security Measures Be Upgraded?
The state of Arizona famously increased their immigration control in light of recent laws, beefing up security at the Mexican border and increasing checks for legal documents. Could the House include similar increased security measures as a way to deflect criticism from their bill? Most would agree that resources would be better allocated to finding illegal aliens already in the country instead of focusing on blocking more from entering.
How Will Democrats React?
Some are predicting that House leader John Boehner's vote on immigration reform could be his toughest yet. Typically, he needs support of Democrats to overcome GOP opposition, and it's unknown how much the Democratic Party is willing to bend in an effort to reach a deal.
How Will Republicans React?
Immigration reform will be the true test on whether or not the political environment has changed for the GOP. Boehner has successfully avoided antagonizing advocates on both sides of immigration reform by keeping the subject on the back burner for almost a year. Unfortunately for him, it's time to finally face the music. Republican groups have already battled Boehner over the budget, and to many, immigration reform is a sensitive subject.
Few would argue that some sort of immigration compromise needs to be resolved sooner rather than later, it just depends on which side of the argument is going to break first. Until then, millions of immigrants are left to play the waiting game once again.