Comprehensive immigration reform is a step closer to becoming reality as a Senate group introduced its immigration plan, followed by president Obama’s own immigration proposal.
On January 28, 2013, a group of bipartisan senators formally unveiled their framework for comprehensive immigration reform, saying they are more optimistic than they have been in years for the chance of passing such legislation.
The Senators involved in the negotiations—Democrats Chuck Schumer (NY), Dick Durbin (IL), Bob Menendez (NJ), and Michael Bennet (CO); and Republicans John McCain (AZ), Marco Rubio (FL), Lindsey Graham (SC), and Jeff Flake (AZ)—outlined four “basic legislative pillars” for immigration reform:
• Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
• Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;
• Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers;
• Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.
The senators stated: “We recognize that our immigration system is broken. And while border security has improved significantly over the last two Administrations, we still don’t have a functioning immigration system. This has created a situation where up to 11 million undocumented immigrants are living in the shadows. Our legislation acknowledges these realities by finally committing the resources needed to secure the border, modernize and streamline our current legal immigration system, while creating a tough but fair legalization program for individuals who are currently here. We will ensure that this is a successful permanent reform to our immigration system that will not need to be revisited.”
The next day, on January 29, 2013, President Barack Obama gave a speech on immigration. The president supported a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration laws and said “now is the time” for immigration reform. Obama specified three pillars of immigration reform:
• Better enforcement of immigration laws;
• Providing a path to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country;
• Reforming the legal immigration system.
Immigrant rights groups and immigration lawyers have welcomed the progress. American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) said in a statement following the senators’ proposal: “Today the conversation has changed from the realm of rhetoric into a real discussion of the right way to build a new system that meets our country’s needs. The devil is, as they say, in the details, but this newly released bipartisan document shows that consensus is not only possible, but closer than ever.”
Attorneys at I.S. Law Firm have helped many immigrants to legalize their status in the United States, change or extend their status, or obtain permanent residency. Please contact us for a consultation today: (703) 527-1779 or via e-mail: [email protected].