Comprehensive Immigration Reform Underway – All Aboard!

Eight senators, Schumer (D-NY), McCain (R-AZ), Durbin (D-IL), Graham(R-SC), Menendez (D-NJ), Rubio (R-FL), Bennet (D-CO) and Flake (R-AZ), banded together at the Capitol in Washington D.C. to present their Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR).  The senators’ framework outlines four different pillars, to be elaborated at a future date: 1. A Path to Citizenship for Unauthorized Immigrants; 2. Reforming the Legal Immigration System; 3. An Effective Employment Verification System; and 4. Improving Process for Future Workers. Some notable concepts that will no doubt be reprised in future immigration news reports and blogs:

  •  Probationary Legal Status:  In pursuit of legalizing the 11 million undocumented immigrants and lifting them from the shadows of society, these individuals will be place in probationary legal status (a kind of limbo) that will tide them over while they wait in the proverbial “line” behind legal immigrants with pending greencard applications.
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (aka Drones): As if borrowed straight from the reel of a science-fiction film, drones may well be the wave of future immigration enforcement along the northern and southern borders.  Unless, of course, privacy groups object….
  • I-94 Automation: this was specially named in the framework, but the “entry-exit system” to track all visitors already exists.  It’s just a matter of ensuring the data is accurately shared with relevant agencies.
  • Preference Categories: Only after the lines of legal immigrants have all received their greencards will the Probationary Legal Status cohort be able to receive their greencards… except certain categories of young people and agricultural workers (maybe). Has anybody informed the Senators this could be over a decade?
  • Mandatory Tests of the Labor Market:  Recruitment of American workers may be expanded to other non-immigrant categories.

Yesterday’s Senatorial remarks struck a very different tone, as evidenced by the emphasis on the humanistic aspects of immigration.  Could it be that an appeal by Hispanic Leadership Institute on the non-use of pejorative immigration-related terminology has actually resonated with top congressional leaders?  Or, perhaps Senator McCain said it best when he answered a question as to why CIR might be passed this year, instead of in 2007:

Elections!  The Republication Party is losing the support of our Hispanic citizens.  … Over the years, Republicans in particular, but also Democrats, and all of our citizens, have realized the reality of what all of my colleagues just stated, we cannot continue as a nation with 11 million people residing in the shadows and we have to address the issue and it has to be done in a bipartisan fashion. And if we do succeed, and I think we will, it will be a testimonial to Ted Kennedy’s effort years ago that laid the groundwork for this agreement.  You will find that this agreement has very little difference from that of the legislation that was led by Senator Kennedy some years ago.

Senator Schumer also chimed in with this remark:

The public’s attitude has changed in four years.  Four years ago, they said “Fix the borders.”  Now, they much prefer a comprehensive solution including a path to citizenship as well as fixing the border and doing the things we’ve talked about. … When you look at the polling data, it’s Democrats, Independents and Republicans who agree with the that.  People in the North, East, West and South agree with that.  So the public is yearning with change now.

Similarly, President Obama remarked today on comprehensive immigration reform at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nevada.

 

The President affirmed many of the pillars outlined in the Senators’ framework released yesterday and emphasized our nation’s history of immigrants.  He outlined the steps this Administration has taken to get to CIR:

First: Strengthening the borders.

Second: Focusing on enforcement efforts.

Third: Promoted the cause of DREAMers.

Fourth: Tackle CIR!

In the weeks and months to come, the Case Management Guru Blog will continue to bring you relevant immigration news and practice updates.  Keep informed and subscribe to our blog.