What is Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR)?
CIR is the name used to describe immigration reform that is being discussed in Congress to reform a severely outdated immigration system. CIR will address backlogs in the current immigration system for lawful residents and citizens who are trying to bring family members. In addition, CIR will also tackle how to bring out of the "shadows" the roughly estimated 11 million undocumented persons in the United States.
When can we expect Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) to Pass?
The Obama administration reacting to the overwhelming support of the Latino vote during his re-election, got started on immigration reform just days after his second inauguration. The Senate has given themselves a deadline of March 1, 2013 to put together a bill for CIR that embodies the principles outlined by the Obama administration. Once a bill is introduced in the Senate it will go through markups, Senate hearings and debated and voted on the floor of the Senate. To overcome any fillibusters, the bill will need to recieve at least 60 votes.
What are the Basic Principles that will be addressed under Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR)?
President Obama has outlined 4 core principles that are likely to be part of CIR:
1) Strenghtening Border Security: Any proposal for immigration reform will include a component to prevent the continuning stream of illegal immigraiton into the United States. This will be undertaken by increasing security at the border and removing criminals from the United States.
2) Streamlining Legal Immigration: President Obama's proposal will provide visas to foreign entrepreneurs looking to start businesses in the United States and help promising foreign graduate students in science and math stay in the U.S. after graduation. The President's proposal will also help reunite families in a timely manner instead of the current significant backlog of family visas.
3) Earned Citizenship for Undocumented Persons: President Obama's proposal also provides undocumented immigrants a legal way to earn citizenship so they can come out of the shadows. It will hold undocumented persons accountable by requiring they pass background checks, pay taxes and a penalty, go to the back of the line, and learn English. It requires everyone to play by the same rules.
4) Cracking Down on Employers Hiring Undocumented Workers: President Obama's proposal is designed to stop businesses from exploiting the system by knowingly hiring undocumented workers. It holds companies accountable, and gives employers who want to play by the rules a reliable way to verify that their employees are here legally.
Conclusion: CIR has been long overdue and Congress will be engaging in a lively discussion over the next several months. What is clear is that CIR will be landmark legislation that addresses the backlog in family pettitions and employment petitions as well as address the estimated 11 million undocumented persons in the United States. The complete details and exact qualifications for CIR have yet to emerge, but stay tuned as we will update you as the details emerge!