Today a group of powerful U.S. Senators announced they have agreed to a framework on comprehensive immigration reform. The bipartisan group includes Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Michael Bennett (D-CO), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). The fact that both parties have agreed to the deal gives it much better prospects for passage. If the package were to pass through the Senate with significant support from both parties it would put tremendous pressure on House Republicans to pass the bill as well. Here is a summary of what the bipartisan group has agreed to according to the Huffington Post.
Path to Citizenship
- The bill would include a “tough, fair, and practical roadmap to address the status of unauthorized immigrants in the United States.” At the same time, the framework states that this path to citizenship would be “contingent upon our success in securing our borders and addressing visa overstays.”
- The bill would require those currently living in the United States legally to register with the government, pass a background check, and settle their debt to society by paying a fine and back taxes. Individuals with a serious criminal background or those who “pose a threat to our national security” would be ineligible and subject to deportation.
- Current restrictions keeping non-immigrants from accessing “public benefits” would also apply to those who are on the path the citizenship.
- Once they have passed the background check and paid their “debt to society”, those on “probationary legal status” will be placed at the back of the line for prospective immigrants. These probationary immigrants will then have to “pass another background check, pay taxes, learn English and civics, demonstrate a history of work in the United States, and current employment” in order to apply for lawful permanent residency.
- Exemptions would be made for minors who did not knowingly violate U.S. immigration laws when they entered the United States and agricultural workers.
- The Bill would increase Border Patrol efforts by “providing them with the latest technology, infrastructure, and personnel needed.” The legislation would increase the number of Border Patrol agents and the number of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, monitoring the border.
- The bill would “strengthen prohibitions against racial profiling and inappropriate use of force” by increasing the training of border patrol agents and increasing oversight.
- The bill would create an “entry-exit system” that would track whether all persons entering the United States on a temporary visa leave the country as required by law.
- The bill would create a commission of “governors, attorneys general, and community leaders living along the Southwest border to monitor the progress of securing our border and make recommendations.”
Skilled Worker Immigration
- The bill would develop a “rational legal immigration system” to reduce the backlog of visas which force families to live apart and keep specialized jobs unfilled.
- The bill would also award a green card to immigrants who receive a PhD or Master’s degree in science, technology, engineering, or math from an American university.
- The bill would implement a “fast and reliable method to confirm whether new hires are legally authorized to work in the United States.”
- The bill would place stiff fines and criminal penalties on employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers.
Low Skilled Workers
- The bill would allow “more lower-skilled immigrants to come here when our economy is creating jobs, and fewer when our economy is not creating jobs.”
- Employers who want to hire lower-skilled immigrants would have to demonstrate that they could not successfully recruit an American and that the hiring of the immigrant will not displace American workers.