Most of the talk surrounding comprehensive immigration reform has been focused on the efforts of the Senate “Gang of Eight.” However, a similar bipartisan group of eight in the House of Representatives has concurrently been working on its own bill.
New details emerged on the House bill on Tuesday, and it’s markedly different from the Senate bill.
The Senate plan is expected to create a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country. Applicants would need to complete certain requirements, including paying fines and back taxes, and border security would have to be strengthened.
Under the House plan, the most direct and expedited path to citizenship will be offered to agricultural workers, who provide crucial work for the national economy, and for DREAMers, those who were brought to the country as children by their parents and have graduated high school or served in the military.
Rep. Raúl Labrador, a Republican member of the House group from Idaho, wrote in an opinion article on Sunday that “Those who entered the U.S. as children, through no fault of their own, will be allowed to have a pathway to citizenship.”
A path to permanent residency will be available to those who have a family or employment relationship that would allow them to apply for legal status, provided they pay fines, back taxes and learn English. Applicants under this path would likely need to return to their home countries after completing all of the requirements in order to apply.
The third path provides the longest road to citizenship. It is similar to the path offered in the Senate bill, in that undocumented immigrants could receive provisional legal status if they admit to breaking immigration laws, pay fines and back taxes and learn English. They would then be eligible to go through existing channels to apply for permanent residency after 10 years, and citizenship five years after that.
The House group is expected to release their bill shortly, possibly before the Senate. Certain key details have yet to be worked out by the House, including border security requirements and what benefits, if any, immigrants could receive during their provisional legal status.