Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gang of Eight's Immigration Reform Proposal Emerging

Reports are starting to trickle in about the comprehensive immigration plan being worked out by a bipartisan group of eight senators. The senators have been meeting behind closed doors for weeks in an effort to forge an agreement. Demonstrating how sincere they are, the senators had forbid their staffs from talking to the press about the negotiations.

But now, some of the details are starting to emerge as the gang of eight hammers out the final details. Their proposal does provide a path to citizenship, which was never really in doubt on the Senate side. Republican senators in the group, such as Lindsey Graham, have been willing to entertain a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants as long as sufficient resources are allocated to border security.

What's interesting about the proposed path is the length of time it will take unauthorized immigrants to obtain a green card: possibly a decade, with citizenship to follow a few years later. During this waiting time, unauthorized immigrants will not have access to a number of social services, such as unemployment insurance and Medicaid. And there are back penalties to pay. During the ten year waiting period, I would imagine there are plenty of opportunities for an immigrant with temporary status to get disqualified; committing a crime comes to mind.

So when you add it all up, those here illegally better be ready for a long slog. A waiting period where you will still have to live with the apprehension of knowing that certain mistakes can end the path to citizenship. Years where you are forced to pay into a system that you do not fully have access to.

But then again, those who oppose a path to citizenship would argue that unauthorized immigrants are not being mistreated because they proactively sought to enter the country knowing full well they had no right to be here. Thus, it is a self-inflicted sacrifice that unauthorized immigrants must make for the sake of their families' futures. And it's a sacrifice they must make to appease the segment of the population that cannot understand why, under any circumstances, the U.S. would provide a path to citizenship to individuals who came to the U.S. in violation of the law.

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