posted on January 29, 2013 16:00
President Obama’s speech on Jan. 29 in Nevada will mark the public unveiling of private planning that has been in the works at the White House and Congress for at least a year.
There is agreement on a framework for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a conditional path to citizenship.
The group’s plan includes reforms to the legal immigration system based upon the needs of the economy, creation of a strong employment verification system, and an improved process for admitting future workers. Details include:
1. Creating stronger borders. Under the plan, creating a path to citizenship is contingent on strengthening border protections using "the latest technology, infrastructure, and personnel." That would be achieved by:
• Increasing the number of unmanned drones along the border.
• Increasing the number of border patrol agents.
• Improving tracking of whether visitors on temporary visas have left the U.S. as required.
• Creating a commission of governors, attorneys general, and community leaders from the Southwest to weigh in on implementation of these security measures.
2. Registering with the government. As those border protections are put in place, undocumented immigrants could register with the government to begin becoming citizens. To be granted "probationary" status, which would let them live and work legally in the U.S., undocumented immigrants would have to commit to:
• Passing a background check.
• Paying a fine and back taxes.
• Getting no access to federal public benefits until granted full citizenship.
3. Moving to the back of the line. Undocumented immigrants would start at the end of the line, meaning they would not receive a green card until those already legally in line get theirs. The remaining hurdles to citizenship could include:
• Additional background check.
• Paying taxes.
• Learning English and civics.
• Proving that they are and have been employed in the United States, although the bipartisan plan also proposes making it harder for undocumented immigrants to get jobs in the U.S. in the first place.
Two groups of undocumented immigrants will be exempt from the process: individuals brought to the U.S. as minors and workers in the agricultural industry. The plan will also propose that businesses be allowed to hire lower-skilled workers if unable to recruit Americans to fill positions, and would adjust the flow of immigrant labor to respond to economic conditions.
An employment verification system will provide a fast method for U.S. employers to determine the legal status of their workers that prevents identity theft.