This week will be very interesting on this front — as a bipartisan group of 8 Senators will release a plan to address issues with illegal immigration today and President Obama will release a plan tomorrow in Las Vegas. This comes after an election where Hispanics decisively voted for Barack Obama and the GOP spent a great deal of time demonizing them. While fixing the undocumented immigrant problem is indeed important, keep in mind that Democrats want to solidify their relationship to Hispanics and the GOP wants to start one. This deal would cover border security, a path to citizenship for approx. 10M people, and work visas for high tech workers. From the LA Times:
….The Senate proposal would allow most of those in the country illegally to obtain probationary legal status immediately by paying a fine and back taxes and passing a background check. That would make them eligible to work and live in the U.S. They could earn a green card — permanent residency — after the government certifies that the U.S.-Mexican border has become secure, but might face a lengthy process before becoming citizens.
….Less-controversial provisions would tighten requirements on employers to check the immigration status of new workers; increase the number of visas for high-skilled jobs; provide green cards automatically to people who earn master’s degrees or PhDs in science, technology or math at U.S. universities; and create an agricultural guest-worker program.
President Obama’s proposal :
Obama is expected to push for a faster citizenship process that would not be conditional on border security standards being met first. The structure of the citizenship process will probably be among the most hotly debated parts of any immigration plan.
The President met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus last week and Rep. Gutierrez remarked that the President’s Plan was in line with the CHC’s principles for immigration reform.
There isn’t alot of detail yet, but I’m not crazy about the “certification” deal for the border. This President has been aggressive in border enforcement and in deportations — and is sometimes criticized for that — but if this means that there is an expectation that the border will be completely non-porous before the process towards citizenship, then I think we’re looking at a pig in the poke. Still, it is good that this is getting to the front burner.
What do you think of this?
EDIT: The Washington Post has posted up the entire Senate proposal. It is organized around 4 legislative pillars:
1. 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;
2. Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;
3. Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and,
4. Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.