Even before the official release of the Senate’s immigration reform bill on Wednesday, there was concern among immigration reform supporters that the border security “triggers” attached to the bill would impede a potential pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the country.
Those concerns were affirmed when the 844-page document was released to the public on Wednesday. Up to $4.5 billion will be allocated to bolstering border security, and no one will be able to apply for registered provisional immigrant status, permanent residency, or citizenship until certain border control triggers have been met.
Advocacy groups have opposed such measures as it arbitrarily takes the fate of millions of undocumented immigrants and families out of their own hands and into the control of the Department of Homeland Security and other border security agencies.
However, Senator Bob Menendez, one of the “Gang of Eight” senators that worked on the immigration reform bill, on Wednesday night in a conference call tried to lay those concerns to rest.
“A lot of people are concerned about the border security triggers, they think this is a barrier or obstacle for the pathway to citizenship – I would never sign on to a piece of legislation where the pathway for 11 million undocumented immigrants isn’t clearly achievable or obtainable,” said Menendez. “This bill has metrics as it relates to border security that are objective and achievable. This won’t stop the undocumented from receiving legal status and getting on the path to citizenship.”
“You will hear a lot of talk about border security because it was necessary to get the Republicans on board with immigration reform, but rest assured this will not stand in the way of the path to citizenship,” Menendez added.
Senator Menendez has been one of the staunchest supporters of commonsense immigration reform that brings families back together and offers a direct path to citizenship. With the bill now revealed, this is the time to ramp up the pressure on our elected officials to make the bill as fair and humane as possible.