The announcements of this week made millions of people, their families and legal representatives very happy and hopeful. After all, it is the closest we came to meaningfully discuss the Comprehensive Immigration reform since 2007.
So what actually happened and what does it mean? Eight Senators, Democrats and Republics, got together and announced their plan for a Comprehensive Immigration reform. So far, it is just four pages that lay out some basic principals. The Senators recognize that many gaps must be filled. But so far, the basic principals include:
· Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
· Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;
· Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and,
· Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.
After this announcement, the President made an announcement of his own. He applauded the push toward a comprehensive reform by the Senators, however, announced his own vision of the reform. His vision includes:
- Eliminating the extremely long wait times for families to be reunited with loved ones with temporary and permanent reforms to the family-based immigration system;
- Treating same-sex families just like other families;
- Eliminating long wait times for employers and prospective employees by reducing backlogs and adding visas;
- Granting green cards to graduates in science, technology, engineering and math fields, creating a "startup visa" for job-creating entrepreneurs, and expanding opportunities for investors contributing to U.S. economic development;
- Expediting an opportunity for DREAMers to earn their citizenship;
- Investing in our immigration courts and providing greater protections for those least able to represent themselves;
- Providing broader discretion to judges to help keep families together when they face hardship;
- Imposing tough criminal penalties on notarios who prey on vulnerable immigrants.
Both proposals make us very hopeful that soon there will be a bipartisan meaningful and fair Comprehensive Immigration Reform that will fix many problems in our broken immigration system.