January 28, 2013, the United States Senate proposed what they are calling a comprehensive immigration plan. The plan can be found here: http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/28/politics/immigration-plan-framework/index.html
The plan includes registration and work authorization for millions of undocumented immigrants, but only after border control and a crack down on overstayers is first addressed. Here are the highlights (excerpted from Immigration Impact)
- Creating a pathway to U.S. citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States. Implementation of this provision is “contingent upon our success in securing our borders and addressing visa overstays,” which leaves open the question of exactly how much enforcement will be deemed sufficient for a legalization program to begin. Nevertheless, unauthorized immigrants would first register with the federal government and receive “probationary legal status” if they pass a background check and pay a fine and back taxes. Once new enforcement measures are in place at the border and an entry-exit system has been created for the nation as a whole, immigrants with probationary status would be sent to the “back of the line” for a green card and, after that, U.S. citizenship. Because current backlogs for immigrants applying for family and employment based visas can cause delays of twenty years or more, the proposal also acknowledges a need to reduce existing backlogs. Backlog reduction and a more reasonable number of family and employment based visas will constitute an important, but as yet unknown part of the forthcoming legislation. Separate and less arduous pathways to citizenship would be created for unauthorized immigrants who came to this country as children (the DREAMers) and for unauthorized agricultural workers.
- Reforming the legal immigration system and attracting the “best and brightest.” Channels for legal immigration to the United States would be revamped so that they are more responsive to labor demand, especially at the high-skilled end of the occupational spectrum. Green cards would be given to foreign students who earn a graduate degree in science, engineering, technology, or mathematics from a U.S. university. In addition, backlogs would be reduced for both family-based and employment-based immigration applications.
- Strong employment verifications. A mandatory system of employment-eligibility verification that is capable of detecting identity fraud would be put in place to prevent future unauthorized immigrants from obtaining jobs in the United States.
- Admitting new workers and protecting workers’ rights. U.S. employers would be allowed to hire an immigrant if an American worker cannot be found to fill a position, within the context of strong labor protections for all workers, both immigrant and native-born.