While the senators working on comprehensive immigration reform have said that all of the major details have been agreed upon, the minor details of a potential bill will be just as important to many of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.
There has been a lot of talk about undocumented immigrants and taxes. According to the Immigration Policy Center, in the 2010 tax year, undocumented immigrants paid $11 billion dollars in combined taxes, $1.2 billion of which was from personal income tax.
A proposed pathway to citizenship in immigration reform is expected to include penalties and the payment of back taxes as prerequisites. This can potentially be a very difficult and time consuming part of the process, as how would immigrants who have been paying taxes be treated under this requirement?
Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America’s Voice, has been quoted as saying that this would be “an administrative nightmare,” and that the work involved in verifying employment histories of undocumented immigrants would be “likely to cost the government more money than it brings in.”
A pathway to citizenship is also expected to require that applicants confirm they have permanent employment, which can be difficult for many undocumented immigrants working in hospitality and construction, as well as for day laborers. These workers often switch jobs as work is completed or are engaged in seasonal labor.
Comprehensive immigration reform must also include LGBT couples within family-based immigration. Current immigration law bars same-sex marriage partners from applying for immigration benefits.
It’s great that we are finally about to see substantial progress on immigration reform in the U.S., it has been a long time coming. But we should also be sure to work out all of the specific details that individuals may face in addition to the major issues.