One of the big topics of recent months has been immigration law and the effort to rewrite the current immigration bill. The Senate has been reviewing current laws on this subject in an attempt to develop a better plan to reduce illegal entry into the United States and to help people from foreign lands gain legal citizenship. The process has been quite complex and, as of recent talks, good ideas have been brought forward; however, many lawmakers as well as a lawyer who helps many looking to legally enter the United States have reason to question other parts of the presented information.
The Good News
Efforts to make legal entry and citizenship to the United States both easier and more regulated have seen a number of Senate suggestions. There would be a finite length of time required before petitioning for citizenship to let the government speed up the process as well as offer a merit visa for skilled, non-skilled, technology, healthcare, or other workers in demand in the United States. Employers would shoulder a greater tracking burden of every employee’s legal status.
The process would take approximately thirteen years to complete. During that time, petitioners would be required to pay taxes but not be eligible for welfare or healthcare assistance. This process would begin with the nearly 11 million people living illegally in the United States today, providing a legal channel to obtain citizenship. The benefit of this is a record of all who are in the United States illegally and offer a viable option as well as limiting governmental expenses to provide assistance to people who are not yet citizens.
The Not-So-Good News
In order for this plan to be implemented, the Department of Homeland Security would have to greatly increase the border patrol and spend billions to erect and fortify better border controls to prevent illegal border entry. As the Senate has noted, the outlined ideas will work once security measures have been done; it all is dependent on border reinforcement to gain control of the influx of immigrants entering illegally into the United States.
While that does make good sense, there are many lawmakers questioning the validity of spending billions of dollars over several years to attempt to control borders that will be overwhelmed with a sudden rush of illegal entries the moment this plan is instated. If security is able to be set in place to handle illegal entry, the numbers who will attempt to cross the borders prior to the effective date will be overwhelming.
An important question remains – will this plan create any long-term benefit once an influx of immigrants comes over the border and starts a life in the United States before being stopped? There are also other proposed changes that would no longer allow United States citizens to sponsor family members wanting to immigrate. Although attempts are being made to bring in labor that is actually needed in the United States, it has been suggested that the whole package could give unfair advantages to some people already residing here illegally.
Regardless of what happens in the next few months, the process is not likely to get any easier, especially since the Senate’s proposed outline is set to be released to state and local governments and also reviewed by a lawyer for input. While coming up with some kind of plan that works better than the current system is a high priority, debate will likely continue for some time on exactly how to reform United States immigration laws before a balanced plan that is agreeable to all involved parties is drafted.
Reynaldo G. Garza, III
680 E. St Charles, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520