Last night, Senators Reid, Schumer, Durbin, Feinstein and Menendez held a press conference to announce their framework for moving forward with a comprehensive immigration reform proposal. At the press conference, the senators outlined their ideas for reform and invited Republicans to come to the table and work with them to advance a legislative proposal this year.
The proposal appears to be a good start to what we hope will be a serious process, leading to the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform legislation this year that resolves the status of 12 million unauthorized immigrants, reunites families, and restores the rule of law to our immigration system. The American Immigration Lawyers Association just released a thorough, six page analysis of the framework which you can find here.
Most importantly, there seems to be confusion about the framework’s legalization program. Press reports suggest that unauthorized immigrants would be stuck in some sort of undefined legal limbo until stipulated border security measures are met, or that a substantial chunk of the undocumented population would not qualify.
In fact, these immigrants would be able to obtain temporary legal status as soon as the program is enacted, but they would not be able to “adjust status” to Legal Permanent Residency or a green card (the second phase of the process) until some of the border security and family immigration provisions are implemented. They would be afforded work authorization, travel permission, and protection from deportation in the meantime, but the proposal estimates that it will take eight years for them to be able to apply for green cards. In addition, the outline states that the senators’ goal is to “encourage maximum participation in the legalization program” by creating a process that is both “broad” and “streamlined” – addressing concerns with previous legalization proposals, whose complicated procedures and eligibility rules excluded more immigrants.
The framework describes a plan to immediately register undocumented immigrants and establishes a temporary immigration status so that they can work legally, pay taxes, travel abroad, and no longer live in fear of deportation. Eligible immigrants and temporary protected status (TPS) holders will be considered for the first step of the legalization program, an interim “Lawful Prospective Immigrant” (LPI) status, as soon as the program is up and running. After eight years, these immigrants can apply for green cards and get on a path to full U.S. citizenship.
DREAM Act is included.
AgJOBS is included.
Permanent partners immigration provisions included.
On family-based immigration: family immigration backlog would be cleared in eight years. Spouses and children of Legal Permanent Residents are moved to “immediate relative” immigration category, reducing their waiting period to enter the U.S. now and in the future
Increased labor protections and remedies, as well as a commission to determine future employment-based visa numbers based on labor market needs.