On January 28, 2013, a Bipartisan group of Senators dubbed the Gang of Eight introduced a blueprint for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR).
On Monday, January 28, 2013, a Bipartisan group of Senators introduced a blueprint for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR). The Senators, dubbed the “Gang of Eight,” include Shumer, McCain, Durbin, Graham, Menendez, Rubio, Bennett and Flake. With four Senators hailing from each side of the aisle, this is the first attempt at meaningful immigration reform since the ill-fated McCain/Kennedy proposal of some 8 years ago. Meanwhile, President Obama is determined to address the proposal and it is rumored that the Whitehouse’s vision for reform will be somewhat more “left-leaning” in spirit than that put forth by the Gang of Eight.
Starting with the recognition that our immigration system is “broken” and has created a shadow class of some 11 million undocumented residents in the US, the overall tenor of the proposal is to acknowledge the reality that the US Government cannot feasibly deport 11 million individuals and that millions of these people are contributing to the U.S. economy, albeit “off the books.” The blueprint offered will commit resources to protecting our border, but offering a “tough, but fair” legalization program to draw the undocumented out of the shadows.
To achieve these broader gals, the Gang of Eight’s proposal highlights 4 legislative “pillars” that must be integral to the new system. First, the plan will include a Path to Citizenship for unauthorized immigrants, contingent on the securing of the borders and implementation of a tracking system to ensure that legally admitted nonimmigrants depart when required. Second, the plan will reform the legal immigration system to emphasize the importance of individual’s attributes and accomplishments that will help build the economy and “strengthen American families.” Third, the plan will create an employment verification system to prevent identity theft and end the hiring of unauthorized workers. Finally, the plan will establish an improved process for the admission of foreign workers to service our country’s needs, while protecting all workers.
The Border Security initiative will include a complete overhaul of security systems and increased use of unmanned surveillance aircraft to detect illegal entrants and improve safety along the border for international commerce. The law, however, will recognize that certain undocumented people in the U.S., such as those who came here as children, made no conscious decision to break the law and will face a more lax road to obtaining legal status than other individuals. Also, workers contributing to the U.S. agricultural industry will be acknowledged as necessary to serving the important functions they fulfill in maintaining the nations food supply.
To attract the “best and brightest” foreign workers, the plan will authorize the granting of lawful permanent resident status to have received a Master’s or PhD degree from an American University in the Science, technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. To protect existing U.S. workers, the reform plan proposes to implement an accurate employment verification system and strictly punish U.S. businesses that choose to hire unauthorized workers. Nonetheless, the Gang of Eight’s blueprint promises to provide for a safe and humane system for lesser-skilled workers to enter the country in the future, to avoid involvement with drug cartels and alien smugglers.
While the CIR blueprint from the Gang of Eight includes many laudable proposals, it is not without flaws and one of its first and most vocal critics will be the President himself, who is set to deliver a response to the Gang of Eight plan imminently. Although these plans are still in the blueprint stage, undocumented immigrants and students in the United States who feared that attending college in the U.S. was an impossibility should remain hopeful. A chance to work in the U.S., attend college at one of this nation’s fine institutions and live the American dream may be just around the corner.