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2013 Bipartisan Plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

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Four Democrat (Schumer, Durbin, Menendez and Bennet) and four Republican senators (Graham, McCain, Rubion and Flake) recently released their Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  This much-anticipated outline sets forth the bipartisan proposal for what comprehensive immigration reform might look like.

The documents lists "Four Basic Legislative Pillars":

  1. A "tough but fair path to citizenship" for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the U.S.
  2. "Reform" of the US immigration system so as to protect the American worker.
  3. An improved employment verification system that prevents identity theft.
  4. Increasing the availability of visas for highly skilled, technical employees.

The plan devotes considerable time discussing increased enforcement.  The Senators promise greater financial and technological resources to the Border Patrol.  The plan calls for an improved entry-exit system that tracks whether all temporary visitors have left the country on time.  Curiously, the plan predicates any path to legal status for undocumented aliens upon successful securing of the borders.  It is unclear how exactly the two issues will be tied and implemented.

The plan does note an intention to treat DREAMers (young people who are in the US without status, but who did not sneak into the country themselves) differently.  The plan notes that the US "must do a better job of attracting and keeping the world's best and brightest."  The Senators propose the awarding of a green card to immigrants who have received a PhD or Master's degree in science, technology, engineering or math form an American University.

The third prong of the Senatorial approach would be the implementation of "an effective verification system which prevents identity theft and ends the hiring of future unauthorized workers."  The proposal would also allow for guest workers, temporary workers who enter and exit the US to engage in seasonal work.

Time will tell where the legislation might take the country.  This document, while less than ideal, does represent signficiant, positive progress on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform.  It is the first intelligent discussion of real immigration reform to come out of Washington DC in many years.

Immigration reporter Kristen Hare of the St. Louis Beacon interviewed me regarding this proposal yesterday and the story appeared on the Beacon home page.  You can read it here.  From the article:

Jim Hacking, an immigration lawyer with Hacking Immigration Law LLC, sees some of the language of the proposal as punitive and thinks there’s been enough focus on border enforcement.

“I guess politicians always have to mention enforcement first and often,” he says. “It sort of winds its way throughout this proposal.”

...

Hacking didn’t want to be the guy to jinx it, but, he said, “I will say that I’m the most optimistic I’ve ever been.”

If you have questions regarding how comprehensive immigration reform may help keep you or a family member in the US, feel free to give us a call at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact us page today.

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