Senate Unveils Initial Plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

964707_capitol_place_2.jpgA bi-partisan group of eight U.S. Senators just recently unveiled their plan to implement comprehensive reforms to the immigration system. Their current plan has four pillars:

  1. Institute a "tough but fair" path to citizenship for the undocumented foreign nationals currently residing in the United States. This citizenship plan will be contingent upon increased border patrol and security measures which include implementing an approved tracking system that will ensure authorized foreign nationals depart the country at the end of their stay.

    In order to improve border security, the proposal calls for improving technology and infrastructure at the border, as well as increasing the amount of border agents available to detect and apprehend unauthorized foreign nationals. Additionally, the proposal will improve surveillance equipment.

    The proposal also seeks to institute a commission of community leaders, attorneys general, and Southwestern state governors. The purposes of this commission are for the members to communicate to the Senate observations on the efficiency of these new measures and to make recommendations on how to continuously improve the U.S. border security.

    While securing the border is a top priority, the Senate acknowledges that there must be a path to legal residence for those undocumented foreign nationals who are already in the country. Therefore, the proposal requires that undocumented foreign nationals register with the government, undergo a criminal background check, and pay fines and back taxes. After completing these measures, these foreign nationals will be given probationary legal status which will include work authorization. (Of course, foreign nationals who have serious criminal records or otherwise pose a threat to national security will not qualify for the probationary status.)

    Importantly, the Senate proposal makes a special provision for foreign nationals who came to the U.S. as children and therefore did not knowingly violate immigration laws. These people will have a green card procedure available to them that would not require as long of a wait. Additionally, the proposal also gives special attention to undocumented workers who have been employed in the agricultural industry.

  2. Reform the legal immigration pathways to improve the American economy by attracting the world's best and brightest workers; as well as strengthening American families by helping U.S. citizens bring their relatives to the country.To accomplish these goals, the Senate proposes a reduction in the existing backlogs in all of the family and employment-based visa categories. Additionally, to encourage talented workers and scholars to come share their talents with the country, the proposal aims to allot green cards to foreign nationals who have received a PhD or Master's degree in the fields of science, engineering, math, or technology from an American university.

  3. Adopt a more effective online employment verification system that will stop identity theft and any future hiring of unauthorized foreign workers. The Senate recognizes that the majority of undocumented foreign nationals come to the U.S. for employment opportunities. Therefore, a new verification system will be implemented to reduce future undocumented immigration. The new system will ensure that employers are held accountable for hiring undocumented workers and will impose heavy fines and criminal penalties. The system will also make it more difficult for these workers to falsify documents for employment. Importantly, the new verification system will contain procedural safeguards to protect American workers, ensure due process protections, and prevent identity theft.

  4. Implement new and improved processes for admitting future workers while balancing the needs of and ensuring safeguards for domestic workers. To accomplish these goals, the Senate proposal would allow more lower-skilled workers to come to the U.S. and permit those workers who have greatly contributed to their places of employment to obtain green cards on a faster time horizon.

The Gee Law Firm will continue to follow the Senate proposal closely. Our attorneys are available to answer your questions concerning these new immigration laws. Contact our office today to discuss your immigration options with our skilled attorneys.

Additional Blog Posts

California Dream Act Is a Step in the Right Direction for Undocumented Students, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, July 29, 2011
Changing Minds About Immigration: UFW's "Take Our Jobs" Campaign, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, July 21, 2010

Immigration Reform / by Michelle Gee