Society Magazine

Status of the Immigration Overhaul

Posted on the 15 July 2013 by Azharnadeem

The Senate has proposed a massive immigration overhaul bill that is intended to solve issues related to illegal immigration. Here are five things to look forward in the immigration reform bill.

immigrationreformPath to Citizenship

The bill includes a 13-year path to citizenship for the undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Undocumented immigrants must pass a criminal background check and pay taxes. Children of undocumented immigrants who were not born in the U.S. (Dreamers), would be given a faster route toward citizenship if they completed a college degree or served in the U.S. military.

A few Republicans in the Senate are opposed to some of the guidelines under this proposal. Republicans in the House of Representatives have stated they support a path to citizenship measure, but there are hints the timetable could be longer.

Border Security

The Department of Homeland Security must submit plans to increase border surveillance like more border agents, increased fencing, and technology, like drones, to constantly monitor the border. The goal is to apprehend 90% of all illegal border crossings.

Senators have added amendments to increase border security. The Corker-Hoeven Amendment adds more funding to border security and more funding for fencing over 700 miles of the border. Speaker of the House, John Boehner, has stated that he will not even consider the Senate bill in the House unless House Republicans support the border security provisions.

Immigration System

Immigrants who are highly educated, have current employment in the U.S., and have family ties in the U.S. will have higher point merits for naturalization. In addition, the spouses and children (under 31 years old) of green card holders will also be given green cards immediately.

Senator Patrick Leahy wanted to extend green card spousal privileges to same-sex couples. However, with the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act by the Supreme Court of the United States, such amendments are not needed. Support seems stable in the House of Representatives.

Visas

Companies have lobbied for more work visas so they can attract highly-skilled and educated workers. Under the bill, H-1 visas would be increased while a W visa system would be created exclusively for low-skilled labor.

A compromise was developed by the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce over the amount of visas that would be offered per year. The House of Representatives seems split over many of the visa proposals. House Democrats want the Senate compromise, but House Republicans want more visas available.

Immigration Enforcement

All employers would have access to an electronic verification system that would see if any hire is an American citizen. Employers will be fined if they hire an illegal immigrant.

Many Senators were concerned over the civil liberty issues over a citizenship verification system, but supporters argue the provision is necessary. The House of Representatives seems more keen on the verification system, with a bipartisan group saying they support the provisions.

With the Senate bill on the way to be passed or voted against, many immigrants may wonder what their status and protections are. Contact a New Jersey immigration lawyer or law office today to learn more on how this bill could affect you.

Image Credit: vpickering


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