Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill Introduced Today

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., two members of the "Gang of Eight," plan to brief President Barack Obama on the group's comprehensive immigration reform biill on Tuesday. Senators had originally planned a high-profile rollout of their measure,
including a Tuesday morning news conference where they would be flanked
by immigration reform advocates. But the group opted to postpone the event late Monday because of bombings at the Boston Marathon. Schumer, McCain Issue Summary of Immigration Bill – Roll Call:

The bipartisan group of senators working on an immigration overhaul
proposal has released a 17-page summary of its bill, which includes a
provision that will exempt the children of unauthorized immigrants from a
$500 penalty charged to those seeking to have their status legalized.

[A Scribd copy of the 17 page summary is available here. Outline of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (h/t Talking Points Memo).]

Under the bill, unauthorized immigrants may apply to receive legalized status, known as Registered Provisional Immigrant Status.

In order to be eligible, an individual must have immigrated to
the United States prior to Dec. 31, 2011, and maintained a continuous
physical presence since then.

The individual must also pay a $500 fine, but those eligible
for the DREAM Act — a bill that provides a path to citizenship to those
brought illegally as children — would be exempt from the fine.

The individuals would also be assessed taxes, and adults would be required to pay the cost of processing their application.

Under the bill, spouses and children of people in provisional
status can be petitioned for as derivatives of the principal applicant,
but must be in the United States at the time.

The bill would allow those in provisional status to apply for a green card, or permanent residency, after 10 years.

People eligible for the DREAM Act and who are in the farm
workers program can get their green cards in five years and DREAM Act
kids will be eligible for citizenship immediately after they get their
green cards.

The bill also looks to strengthen border security, a key element to
win over Republican support. The measure would authorize $4.5 billion
for such programs.

About six months after the bill is enacted, the Homeland
Security Secretary would submit a plan — “Comprehensive Southern Border
Security Strategy” — for achieving and maintaining effective control in
all high-risk border sectors along the Southern border.

The bill calls for $3 billion to provide a raft of equipment,
including surveillance and detection capabilities developed or used by
the Department of Defense, additional personnel for the southern border
and unmanned aerial systems.

The measure would also call for appropriating $1.5 billion for a
“Southern Border Fencing Strategy.” That would have to be submitted by
the Homeland Security secretary within 180 days of enactment.

The path to legalization would be conditional on beginning the two strategies.

“No immigrant in undocumented status may be adjusted to
‘Registered Provision Immigrant’ (RPI) legal status until the Secretary
has submitted to Congress the Notice of Commencement upon completion of
each of the Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy and the
Southern Border Fencing Strategy,” the summary said.

The path from provisional immigrant to legal resident is
conditional on the substantial deployment of the border strategy and
substantial completion of the fencing strategy.

It is also contingent on the use of an electronic exit system
at air and sea ports of entry that operates by collecting
machine-readable visa or passport information from air and vessel
carriers.

Another condition includes implementing a mandatory employment
verification system to be used by all employers to prevent unauthorized
workers from obtaining employment in the United States.

Other aspects of the include streamlining the legal immigration
to clear out the backlog. One example of how this would be done is that
the bill reduces the preference categories based on family
relationships from four to two. Those would cover unmarried adult
children; married adult children who file before age 31; and unmarried
adult children of lawful permanent residents.

The bill also creates temporary-worker programs for
high-skilled and low-skilled workers and a program to allow undocumented
farm workers to obtain legal status.

More from the Washington Post Senators to unveil path to citizenship, and the New York Times, Senators Set to Unveil Immigration Bill.

As you might imagine, the "Gang og Eight" plan has already encountered opposition. Immigration bill’s path to citizenship is too stringent, advocacy groups say:

Ahead of the expected release Tuesday of a sweeping bipartisan proposal to revamp the nation’s immigration laws, faith-based and civil liberties groups began calling for changes, singling out the proposed path to citizenship for illegal immigrants as too stringent, while a key Republican senator said lawmakers need to be “realistic” about creating such a path.

“While this legislation is certainly a breakthrough, it will have to be
improved to address severe obstacles for many aspiring citizens. The
roadmap to citizenship should not exclude people based on minor crimes
or people who can’t afford hefty fines,” said Anthony D. Romero,
executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Bishop Ricardo McClin, who belongs to PICO National Network, a national
faith-based organizing group, said: “Unfortunately, the proposed
legislation falls short by placing unnecessary obstacles and delays in
the path to citizenship and could unfairly exclude some of the 11
million aspiring Americans who are our neighbors, friends, family and
fellow-worshipers.”

* * *

A bipartisan group of senators is expected to release broad legislation
later Tuesday that would overhaul the nation’s immigration laws by
offering a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants,
directing billions of dollars to bolster border security, and creating
tens of thousands of new visas for foreign workers in low-skilled jobs,
according to a summary obtained by The Washington Post.

* * *

The release of the bill is expected to spark a new round of debate over
what’s proven in recent years to be a politically contentious issue.
While some Republicans have called for the party to involve itself in a
reform effort, others have opposed it, charging that a path to
citizenship amounts to amnesty.

* * *

The bill, which is hundreds of pages long, is the culmination of a
months-long effort from the so-called “Gang of Eight,” a coalition of
four Republicans and four Democrats who have been hashing out the
details of a proposal in consultation with business and labor leaders,
as well as other interest groups. The release of the legislation will
mark the first time since 2007 lawmakers have undertaken an effort to
pass comprehensive immigration reform. The 2007 plan was killed in the
Senate.

* * *

There is a political imperative for the GOP to embrace immigration reform. President Obama won Latino voters by a whopping 44 points in 2012, exit poll data show, stoking GOP concerns that the party’s perceived hostile posture toward immigrants would continue to imperil its chances with a growing share of the electorate.

The White House said Monday that Obama is pleased with what he’s seen from the “Gang of Eight” so far and plans to review the legislation. Two members of the group, Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), are scheduled meet with Obama on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the measure.

“We remain cautiously optimistic that this progress will lead to legislation that can pass and the President can sign,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Monday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled hearings for the bill on
Friday and Monday. Opponents of the measure are expected to offer
amendments aimed at undercutting it.

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