It appears as though the nation’s immigration laws may in for large scale changes. A bipartisan group of Senators have agreed to general terms to overhaul the country’s current patchwork of laws. Indeed, much of the group’s changes are expected to have significant overlaps with President Obama’s plan, which he outlined in a trip to Arizona earlier this week.
At this point in time, it appears as though the changes will be focused on four main objectives:
- Creating some sort of path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here. (This would be contingent on increasing border security and implementing a better tracking program for people in the country on visas.)
- A large scale reformation of the legal immigration system. (This would include awarding green cards to immigrants who obtain advanced degrees from American higher education institutions.)
- Developing an effective employment verification system to reduce the number of employers hiring illegal immigrants.
- Allowing more low-skill workers in to the United States and allowing employers to hire then if they can show that they could not recruit a U.S. citizen.
So far the Senators have only released these general principles, leaving much of the details to be hashed out. However the largest possibility for partisan disagreement will likely come from the path to citizenship. The Republicans have publicly stated that in order for them to agree to a simplified path for illegal immigrants to obtain citizenship, they would require heightened border security and better tracking of individuals already here on visas. This path though would also require the illegal immigrants to apply for a “probationary legal status” that would permit them to live and work here, but would still exclude them from receiving government benefits.
With much of the details yet to be agreed to, the final outcome of the Senators’ proposals is unclear. While their main objective is to simplify and streamline the process, it is possible that the partisan negotiating process will do exactly the opposite.
Got an immigration law question? Send me an email at AThayer@srt-law.com.
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