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Immigration: Who Will Fix Our Broken Immigration System

An immigration attorney with over 30 years of experience discusses the new proposals for immigration reform

On January 28, 2013, 6 bi-partisan senators presented their proposal for fixing our broken immigration system so that the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US could have a clear path to US citizenship.

On January 29, 2013, President Obama presented his framework for fixing our immigration system.

Many employers and individuals rely on undocumented workers to fill landscaping jobs, housecleaning positions, home health aide workers, pizza delivery, farmworkers, etc. When these employers find a good worker who is undocumented, many times the employer wants to sponsor the immigrant to
become legal.  As our immigration laws exist today, if an employer wants to sponsor an undocumented immigrant for a “green card” (permanent resident status) the process for a Skilled or Other Worker category will take between 6 to 10 years.  There is an additional 5 year waiting period to apply for US citizenship. 

The proposals both reference creating a clear pathway to US citizenship; which means that the first step in that process is the pathway to permanent resident status, reducing the severe backlogs which exist, strengthening our borders, ensuring that the prospective immigrants have paid all their taxes, cracking down on employers who employ undocumented workers. 

Both proposals state that any new probationary legal status will be required to go to the back of the line of prospective immigrants, and demonstrate a history of work in the United States, and current employment… in order to earn the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent residency. 

“Individuals who are present without lawful status will only receive a green card after every individual who is already waiting in line for a green card, at the time this legislation is enacted, has received their green card. “  This proposal seems to
indicate that those undocumented persons, who start a process for permanent residency before any new plan is put into place, may have their cases completed first.  If this is the case, then all persons should be urged to begin an immigration process as soon as possible, so that their cases are handled first.

Additionally, if prospective immigrants must demonstrate a history of work in the US and current employment, how will this interact with the sanctions against any employers who employ undocumented workers? 

The President’s proposal aims to “eliminate the backlog for
employment-sponsored immigration by eliminating annual country caps and adding additional visas to the system. “

The President’s proposal states, “Children brought here illegally through no fault of their own by their parents will be eligible for earned citizenship… by going to college or serving honorably in the Armed Forces.”

The senatorial proposal speaks of “allowing employers to hire immigrants if it can be demonstrated that they were unsuccessful in recruiting an American to fill an open position and the hiring of an immigrant will not displace American workers.” 
This IS our current employer-sponsor system.  The new proposals seem to indicate that the employer-sponsor process may change only in that backlogs will be eliminated, and the undocumented may be able to pay a fine and complete their process inside the US, rather than having to leave the country for their individual interviews abroad at the US Consulate.

Securing the borders appears to be a significant difference between the proposals, since the senatorial proposal wants ALL BORDERS TO BE SECURED prior to implementing any other provisions.  Securing our Borders completely would appear to be an insurmountable burden with no timeline in place.  The President’s
proposal calls for securing our borders, but does not make that a requirement
prior to implementing other proposals.

The President’s proposal does not specifically address the families of the LGBT community, however, in further clarification comments; the President has indicated that he would like to see the same visas available to the LGBT families and communities.

It should be emphasized that these are proposals.  A dialogue has opened between the parties.  Now, Congress must discuss the proposals, a bill must be drafted, presented and voted upon in the Senate, and must be passed by the House of Representatives and signed into law by the President. 

It would seem that anyone with the possibility of being sponsored by an employer should consider starting that process, since backlogs may be eliminated, final interviews may be allowed in the US upon the payment of a fine, and those with pending cases should be handled first.



 

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