The Good and the Bad of the Proposed Immigration Bill Amendments

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Last time around, we posted some of the highlights and “lowlights” of the 844-page immigration reform bill. Right now, the Senate Judiciary Committee is considering some 300 amendments proposed by our senators. Here is a link to the full analysis from America’s Voice.

Path to Citizenship

Good

Blumenthal 1 (Title II): Allows young DREAMers who are still in grade school to get green cards after five years, instead of penalizing 10-year-olds for not having high-school diplomas.

Blumenthal 11 (Title II): Protects an immigrant from losing RPI status if he/she did not meet the “employment or minimum income” requirement because he/she was the victim of exploitation (i.e. a labor/employment law violation).

Blumenthal 12 (Title II): Allows DREAMers to become citizens through military service.

Blumenthal 15 (Title II): Moves cut-off date for physical-presence requirement to date of introduction (April 17, 2013).

Feinstein 14 (Title II): Moves cut-off date for physical-presence requirement to date of enactment.

Hirono 12/Leahy 8 (Title II): Allows immigrants on the path to citizenship to pay fines in installments.

Hirono 13 (Title II): Allows RPIs who become immediate relatives of USCs or LPRs to adjust status through the family relationship instead of the RPI program.

Hirono 14 (Title II): Allows RPIs to petition for dependent children and spouses to obtain RPI status even if they are not already in US.

Bad

Cornyn 3 (Title II): Bars immigrants from obtaining RPI status if they have a single misdemeanor in some cases (including domestic violence or DUIs), and prohibits immigrants with 3 misdemeanor convictions from receiving a waiver under any circumstances.

Cornyn 5 (Title II): Guts confidentiality provisions for all legalization programs, including blue cards, RPI status, and green cards for RPIs and DREAMers. In a similar vein, Grassley 10 requires the government to deport RPI applicants who are rejected. Both amendments will have the effect of discouraging immigrants from coming forward in the first place.

Cruz 3 (Title I): Prohibits anyone who has ever been undocumented from becoming a United States citizen—destroying not only the path to citizenship, but a hundred years of precedent in immigration policy.

Grassley 7-21 (Title II): Dramatically alter who is eligible for RPI status by changing eligibility criteria, including limiting the application period timeline and acceptable documentation, as well as increasing fees.

Hatch 3 (Title II): Collects a DNA sample from each adult applying for RPI status to be compared against an FBI database.

Hatch 22 and Lee 10 (Title II): Requires payment of back taxes to immigrants who are legalizing, including all income and employment taxes owed while individual was in the US.

Lee 7 (Title II): Moves cut-off date for physical-presence requirement from December 31, 2011 to December 31, 2009, and bars spouses and children who entered the U.S. after 2011 from being included on their family members’ applications.

Lee 11 (Title II): Requires all immigrants to pay the full $2000 in fines along the path to citizenship, with no ability to have fees reduced due to economic need.

Sessions and Grassley both have amendments that would allow the government to deport people eligible for RPI status in the current bill.  After the bill becomes law, the government is supposed to pause the deportation of immigrants eligible for RPI status until they have a chance to apply.  Sessions 21 and Grassley 11 (both in Title II) terminate this logical provision.  Grassley 11 goes even further, making people ineligible for RPI status if they were ever in deportation proceedings.

Sessions 10 (Title III), 19, 25-28 (Title II): Impose various restrictions on RPI status/adjustment to LPR based on potential eligibility for public benefits. Broaden the definition of “public charge” to include e.g. healthcare benefits. 19 and 28 allow state governments–like Arizona or Alabama–to prevent an immigrant resident of their states from obtaining legal status (19) or a green card (28) by telling the federal government that the immigrant “might” use a social service at some point.

Sessions 22 (Title II): Bars any immigrant with a single misdemeanor conviction–even for driving without a license–from being legalized.

Sessions 24 (Title II): Eliminates the “right to return” provision that allows parents of U.S. citizens and green-card holders who have been deported to apply for RPI status, and bars anyone who has reentered the country without papers after deportation from being legalized.

Sessions 29 (Title II): Requires immigrants to maintain an income 4 times above the poverty line (over $90,000 for a family of four) for the entire 10 years they’re in RPI status in order to apply for a green card.


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