Contrasting Proposals from the White House and the Senate

16-274x300The last week of January was a first step in the process of Immigration Reform that many supporters accepted across sectors, including advocates, labor, and businesses.

 

The proposals can be broken in five segments, which for the most part are compatible, but at the same time are too vague to know with certainty what a final agreement may bring to immigrant communities, and future stakeholders. The proposals are the following:

Border Security:
1. Increase border security efforts including adding unmanned drones, surveillance equipment and more border agents. [Obama: Improve infrastructure at ports of entry and use public-private partnerships to boost investment]
2. Require completion of an entry-exit system to track status of visitors;
3. Create a border commission of lawmakers and community leaders in southwest border assess the status of border security completion;
4. [Obama: Create new criminal penalties for those who smuggle people, drugs, weapons or money across the border and crack down on passport and visa fraud.]
5. [Deport convicted criminals at the end of their prison sentences and streamline the process for removing those who overstay their visas or pose a national security threat.]

Path to Citizenship:
1. While security measures are under way undocumented immigrants can register with the government, pass background checks and pay fines and back taxes in order to earn “probationary legal status.” [Obama: “Provisional legal status”]
2. Once security measures are in place, immigrants on “probation” could apply for permanent legal status. [Obama: path to citizenship for all immigrants, with “provisional legal status” and a green card as first steps, regardless of border security status]
3. People brought to the U.S. as children, and farm-workers, would have a quicker path to citizenship. [Obama: All in the same vote, anyone expedites by serving in military or attending to years of College]
4. [Obama: 5 years after Green Card, immigrants are eligible for Citizenship]

Improve the legal immigration system:
1. Reduce backlogs in family and employment visas; [Obama: Raise the annual cap for family-sponsored petitions from 7 percent to 15 percent.] [Obama: temporarily increase visa numbers for an unspecified amount]
2. Award green cards to immigrants who obtain advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or math from American universities. STEM Aliens. [Obama: New Visa for STEM aliens to work in Federal and National Security Labs]
3. [Obama: Create an “start up visa”, expand “EB-5 Investor” program]
4. [Obama: Allow flexibility in the visa waiver program, and allow State Department to waive interviews for low risk visitors]
5. [Obama: Allows U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor a visa for a same-sex partner.]

Strong employment verification:
1. Create electronic system to determine status and identity; [Obama: Create fraud resistant Social Security Card]
2. Stiff fines and criminal penalties for employers who knowingly hire undocumented immigrants.
3. [Obama Over five years, phase in mandatory electronic employment verification, with exemptions for some small businesses.]
Admitting new workers:
1. Employers could hire immigrants if they can demonstrate they were unsuccessful in recruiting an American and the hiring of an immigrant will not displace American workers;
2. Create an agricultural worker program to meet the needs of the nation’s agriculture industry when American workers are not available;
3. Allow lower-skilled immigrants to come according to supply and demand of the economy;
4. Permit workers who have succeeded in the workplace and contributed to their communities over years to earn green cards.

The Bi-partisan groups of legislators that have met to define the proposals for Immigration reform are the following in each chamber:

US House of Representatives:

Mario Diaz-Balart (R) FL
John Carter (R) TX
Raul Labrador (R) ID
Sam Johnson (R) TX
Luis Gutierrez (D) IL
Zoe Lofgren (D) CA
Xavier Becerra (D) CA
John Yarmuth (D) KY

Raul Labrador proposed that no Path to Citizenship be given to undocumented adults, but may be renewable temporal work visas.

US Senate:

Marco Rubio (R) FL
Jeff Flake (R) AZ
John McCain (R) AZ
Lindsey Graham (R) SC
Dick Durbin (D) IL
Robert Menendez (D) NJ
Michael Bennet (D) CO
Charles Schumer (D) NY

Menendez in the Senate announced that individuals will be required to learn English before becoming Residents, a proposal that will disfranchise a great portion of working families across the nation.

Communities across the nation are also speaking up, and demand the following:

  1. STOP OF ALL DEPORTATIONS, and REDUCE BONDS FOR DETAINEES
  2. STOP SCOMM, and REBUILD COMMUNITY – LAW ENFORCEMENT RELATIONS
  3. Affordable Care Act for ALL RESIDENTS, regardless of CIR
  4. NO English requirement to become Resident, but required for Citizenship
  5. Redefine CONVICTED CRIMINALS, to narrow down only to very dangerous people for deportations.