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Immigration activists worried that reform may be dead after the government shutdown and the new healthcare debate took the attention away from the pending legislation. However, after the President vowed to make immigration reform a top priority at this point in time, House Republican Rep. Darrell Issa responded with a proposition for a six year legal status option.
Issa believes that his new version of legislation offers a middle ground between Democrat’s version of the bill including a path to citizenship and Republican’s view of the legislation as giving in to amnesty. Issa claims the bill is “halfway between full amnesty and simply rejecting people.” Instead of the Senate bill’s idea of offering undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, Issa’s bill would provide six years of legal status to immigrants and allow them to travel back to their native countries while they have this “in-status.” However, once the six years are up, undocumented immigrants are not granted immediate citizenship-or any citizenship. Issa says six year gives immigrants a substantial amount of time to find alternative ways to becoming permanent residents or citizens. There is no mention of any direct path to citizenship or what immigrants are to do after the six year expire. Issa responds to this by claiming that individuals are headed in different categories such as guest worker programs, high skilled programs or have left the country by this point in time and are responsible for their own fates.
Issa’s proposed bill has critics upset that this is even being seriously considered. Six years may not be enough time for over 11 million undocumented immigrants to change their immigration status. Visas are limited and green cards and high-skilled work visas have annual caps that are usually reached within the first few weeks of being opened. Undocumented immigrants would end up waiting decades for a green card hoping to win the lottery that year.
One Mexican immigrant has been waiting 15 years for a green card after his father-a legal permanent resident- petitioned for him. Because of backlogs existing in the application process, the government is still processing applications that were filed before August 1993. It seems that extending some sort of permanent path to citizenship is the best option for undocumented immigrants. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee of what the final bill will contain.
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