Looks like the Senate will have some sort of immigration framework to begin work on immigration reform. Again, this is only a framework, and not actual legislation. Once it is written up, it will go through a painful committee process which will be contentious, unless the Republicans in the mix are able to control their own colleague’s vitriol. Anyway, the framework goes a little like this.
As those security measures take effect, the proposal says, illegal immigrants would be forced to register with the government, undergo a background check, and pay a fine and back taxes so they can obtain a legal status on a probationary basis. That would allow them to live and work legally in the United States, unless they have committed serious crimes, which could subject them to deportation. Those who have obtained probationary legal status would not be allowed to access federal benefits.
After the enforcement measures take effect, those who have obtained their probationary legal status would be required to undergo a series of requirements — including learning English and civics and undergoing further background checks — before being able to obtain permanent residency. The proposal insists that those who have entered the country illegally would not get preferential treatment over legal immigrants playing by the rules.
The only exceptions would be made for seasonal agricultural workers as well as young individuals who unknowingly entered the country illegally as children in a move similar to the DREAM Act proposal that has stalled in Congress for years.
Looks familiar, huh?
Some will say, “Finally!” I’m more willing to say, “Why didn’t you do this during Term 1?” Obviously, the Sunday talking head shows showed a remarkable move to the left on the issue from Senator McCain, as he pointed to the 2012 election results. Republicans still have it in mind that Latinos somehow belong to them, but we’re not single issue people. Mess with our health care, mess with our Social Security, mess with safety net programs and college financial aid, and Latinos will continue to respond, despite the Latino Decisions poll, which I think did not really go into depth tying all issues together.
Still, there are some issues of contention that I’m not in favor of at this point. The Republicans’ insistence that the pathway not begin until some imaginary security measure is instituted has yet to be described.
Before a pathway to citizenship can happen, the group says that new border security measures first must take effect, including an increase in the number of unmanned aerial vehicles and agents at the border, new rules for tracking people entering the country on temporary visas and the creation of a commission of southwestern political and community leaders to ensure the new enforcement mechanisms take effect.
But if “legal status” comes before the path to citizenship, then it may be the one thing that will bring both sides together. Unfortunately, the point where the pathway begins may become a long-term debate in the process. Perhaps the committee will iron that out, although, I believe it should be made up of non-elected officials, perhaps human rights representatives, law enforcement, and the like. Someone like Rick Perry on a committee will only make it a platform for 2016.
The contentious part on the Republicans side will be that of “amnesty,” which a good chunk of their Tea Party favorites will call the measure, despite the fines and rules. I expect the vitriol to come from that general direction.
Of course, I cannot say I’m in favor of some of those security measures. Unmanned drones flying around the Valley and South Texas aren’t something that would make me feel “secure.” Any type of militarization of areas in which 90% of the population is Mexican American makes me kind of nervous. Has anyone asked Americans who live in these areas how they feel about that?
The President announces his ideas on Tuesday, but for all intents and purposes, it would seem that those who are supposed to be creating legislation (Congress) are actually working toward something.
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