Immigration News: Eight Year Wait for Illegal Immigrants
Politicians on both sides of the aisle have been calling for immigration reform for years. For some reason, however, it has been slow coming. In President Barack Obama's 2013 State of the Union Address, he urged Congress to act speedily in sending him a bill on immigration reform. In a direct challenge to members of Congress, he stated "let's get this done," and a draft bill has since been circulating around Congress. The potential legislation sets forth a path for illegal immigrants to obtain citizenship, but there may be obstacles yet to be faced.

How Necessary is Reform?
There are currently an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants residing in the United States. This number is exceptionally large, but the U.S. Government wants to provide a path of citizenship for these immigrants who legitimately want to be U.S. citizens. The biggest problem doesn't involve immigrants who are going through the proper channels to obtain citizenship; the real issue revolves around those who are in the country illegally and are not going through the legal method of becoming a citizen.

The simple fact is that immigration reform is essential in the current world. There are obviously issues that arise from having so many illegal immigrants in the country, and the proposed legislation seems poised to fix many of these issues. It's reported that many of the President's aides have been working on measures for years in expectancy of a renewed interest in comprehensive reform.

What are the Main Provisions of the New Law
As already mentioned, the biggest issue facing immigrants today are those who have completely bypassed the legal path to citizenship in America. President Obama's proposed legislation takes this issue directly on. It seems as if the President has stood behind his original assertions that those who are in America illegally would have to go to "the back of the line."

The new law would create a new type of visa known as the "Lawful Prospective Immigrant" visa. These visas would be available to those who are currently in the country illegally, but they wouldn't simply be handouts. Immigrants would have to pass a background check before they had any hope of obtaining these visas. They would also have to pay the fees related to the visa and submit biometric information to the government.

These visas, however, would not let those who originally bucked America's immigration law get a green card easily. The legislation would require these illegal immigrants to move to the back of the line, just as President Obama always intended. The legislation also states that these immigrants would be ineligible to receive their green card until eight years after the law passes or 30 days after every person who is currently "in line" has received their visas.

Who is Eligible to benefit from this Law?
If the previously mentioned facts about the proposed law were all that was included in the law, there would obviously be some dissension. Should those who are here illegally and have been convicted of crimes, for instance, be granted these new visas and be allowed to get on the path toward citizenship? Luckily, the new legislation has considered this as well.

Immigrants who have served over a year in prison after being convicted of a crime would be ineligible for this path to citizenship. This basically means that anyone convicted of a felony wouldn't be able to attain their citizenship through this method. Also, immigrants who have been convicted of any three crimes which resulted in an accumulated jail time of more than 90 days would be barred. Since most anti-immigration talking points bring up avoiding the possibility of admitting criminals as U.S. citizens, it seems as if this bill would cover all of the bases. Unfortunately, it seems that nothing can be recommended or passed these days without harsh criticism from opposing parties.

Dissension in Congress
Without bringing up the all too recognizable fact that the Republican Party has fought against everything President Obama has suggested, even after previously supporting it (ie. individual health insurance mandates), it seems that the President's proposal is facing fierce opposition from the GOP. Senator Marco Rubio, who delivered the Republican response to the President's 2013 State of the Union Address, flat out stated that he believed the proposed law would make the immigration issue worse.

Although the President's proposed bill seems to have all of the underpinnings of a great piece of legislation that the country has been in need of for decades, it doesn't seem as if he's quite drawn the line in the sand yet. White House officials reassured members of both parties that no decision had been made. Unfortunately, in the current realm of the political spectrum, it's highly unlikely that this will quell any discord amongst members of Congress.

Other Provisions of the Proposed Law
As with any proposed law, there are several other smaller features to President Obama's proposal that support the main idea of the legislation. Security funding related to illegal immigration, for instance, would be increased if the bill passed. It also would require business owners to implement some sort of system that would verify the immigration status those who are brought on as new hires within four years of the passing of the legislation.

In addition, the bill also creates an expedited process towards citizenship for young immigrants who came into the U.S. as children. The process, however, still wouldn't be an automatic handout to these individuals. They could be issued green cards, though, in as little as two years due to their status. This turns out to be a great way to help young immigrants who had no choice in their relocation into the U.S. achieve the citizenship that many people feel they've earned.

Illegal immigration has long been a volatile issue in the American political realm, but luckily, it seems as if some form of change is upon the country. Though many Republicans praised the President's stance that immigration reform must come quickly, there are still those who seem poised to prevent the proposed bill from ever passing. This isn't surprising considering the way the political tides have been rolling, but hopefully, Congressional Republicans and Democrats will choose to come together to finally pass a bill that seriously addresses the issue of illegal immigrants.

Last reviewed on: 02/19/2013
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