Immigration: Who Will Fix Our Broken Immigration System?

Immigration attorney with over 30 years of experience discusses the proposals for immigration reform

On January 28, 2013, 6 bi-partisan senators presented their proposal for fixing our broken immigration system so that the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US could have a clear path to US citizenship.

On January 29, 2013, President Obama presented his framework for fixing our immigration system.

Many employers and individuals rely on undocumented workers to fill landscaping jobs, housecleaning positions, home health aide workers, pizza delivery, farmworkers, etc. When these employers find a good worker who is undocumented, many times the employer wants to sponsor the immigrant to
become legal.  As our immigration laws exist today, if an employer wants to sponsor an undocumented immigrant for a “green card” (permanent resident status) the process for a Skilled or Other Worker category will take between 6 to 10 years.  There is an additional 5 year waiting period to apply for US citizenship. 

The proposals both reference creating a clear pathway to US citizenship; which means that the first step in that process is the pathway to permanent resident status, reducing the severe backlogs which exist, strengthening our borders, ensuring that the prospective immigrants have paid all their taxes, cracking down on employers who employ undocumented workers. 

Both proposals state that any new probationary legal status will be required to go to the back of the line of prospective immigrants, and demonstrate a history of work in the United States, and current employment… in order to earn the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent residency. 

“Individuals who are present without lawful status will only receive a green card after every individual who is already waiting in line for a green card, at the time this legislation is enacted, has received their green card. “  This proposal seems to
indicate that those undocumented persons, who start a process for permanent residency before any new plan is put into place, may have their cases completed first.  If this is the case, then all persons should be urged to begin an immigration process as soon as possible, so that their cases are handled first.

Additionally, if prospective immigrants must demonstrate a history of work in the US and current employment, how will this interact with the sanctions against any employers who employ undocumented workers? 

The President’s proposal aims to “eliminate the backlog for employment-sponsored immigration by eliminating annual country caps and adding additional visas to the system. “

The President’s proposal states, “Children brought here illegally through no fault of their own by their parents will be eligible for earned citizenship… by going to college or serving honorably in the Armed Forces.”

The senatorial proposal speaks of “allowing employers to hire immigrants if it can be demonstrated that they were unsuccessful in recruiting an American to fill an open position and the hiring of an immigrant will not displace American workers.” 
This IS our current employer-sponsor system.  The new proposals seem to indicate that the employer-sponsor process may change only in that backlogs will be eliminated, and the undocumented may be able to pay a fine and complete their process inside the US, rather than having to leave the country for their individual interviews abroad at the US Consulate.

Securing the borders appears to be a significant difference between the proposals, since the senatorial proposal wants ALL BORDERS TO BE SECURED prior to implementing any other provisions.  Securing our Borders completely would appear to be an insurmountable burden with no timeline in place.  The President’s
proposal calls for securing our borders, but does not make that a requirement
prior to implementing other proposals.

The President’s proposal does not specifically address the families of the LGBT community, however, in further clarification comments; the President has indicated that he would like to see the same visas available to the LGBT families and communities.

It should be emphasized that these are proposals.  A dialogue has opened between the parties.  Now, Congress must discuss the proposals, a bill must be drafted, presented and voted upon in the Senate, and must be passed by the House of Representatives and signed into law by the President. 

It would seem that anyone with the possibility of being sponsored by an employer should consider starting that process, since backlogs may be eliminated, final interviews may be allowed in the US upon the payment of a fine, and those with pending cases should be handled first.

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Aidan February 01, 2013 at 10:55 PM
The better question to examine is "Who let our immigration system turn into a mess?".
Aidan February 02, 2013 at 12:12 AM
The immigration mess falls into lots of laps ... the feds, the states, the courts. Never said it was a Democrat thing. Republicans are not gonna win with a hard-line immigration stance at this point ... that day flew by long ago. And they'll never win another presidential election if they try to roll back time. True conservative? They don't even know who they are. Everyone's figured that out ... well, almost everyone.
John February 02, 2013 at 12:50 AM
Sad but true Flora.
Aidan February 02, 2013 at 01:01 AM
Hard line conservatives? Please. They gnaw one another to the bone before any national election. Who's gonna vote for a Santorum who's awash in his own religiosity? Even Gingrich wouldn't meet your standards of a "hard line" conservative. The only "hard line" conservatives can be found behind a microphone ... because they can spew to a shrinking choir. Btw, give what over to hard-line conservatives? "Nobody likes wishy-washy"? What the hell is that? Someone who's stuck in their own mud? It seems to me that "wishy-washy" got a lot more votes than "hard-line". Your only hope is for the nation to flat-line ... which is a sick sort of road to victory.
James Adnaraf February 02, 2013 at 02:52 AM
Conceptually I favor a path to normalization, but it will be difficult. A few relevant matters: *If an illegal immigrant is now in this country, and has the chance to normalize his/her status, if they can do it without leaving the USA, they are NOT at the end of the line, not are they going to the end of the line, because they are already in the USA. So what if they go to the end of the line to get a green card, they are here, and they get to stay here. That is not the end of line as far as I am concerned. * The people who are patiently waiting outside the country to go through the entire process to enter this country legally are the victims, those here illegally, for whatever understandable reason, JUMPED the line. *If we cannot reasonably secure the borders, not a hermetic seal, but an effective security that drastically deters illegal entry, we are simply inviting millions of people to come here illegally in the future. *Anyone who ever used someone else's name, or social security number to work here, should not be allowed to stay here under a normalization program. They should have to return to their home country to start from scratch. *The penalty for adults who illegally entered,or who stayed beyond their visa should be $15,000- $20,000. The fine for those brought here as children should be very low $500. *The process of normalization should not be so easy that is amounts to defacto amnesty. As stated, this will not be easy.
Cynthia R Exner February 03, 2013 at 02:12 PM
The lines of communication about our immigration laws are finally opening up. This is the most progress we've seen in 11 years. Excellent!
Cynthia R Exner February 03, 2013 at 02:22 PM
Good comments. This conversation is keeping the lines of communication open. Unfortunately, most people do not wait outside the US to become permanent residents. The reason: For instance, a person from the Philippines who is sponsored by a US citizen brother or sister, must wait approximately 19 to 21 years for Immigration to reach his/her case. That's the better part of a lifetime. A person being sponsored by an employer for a job, must wait between 6 to 10 years. Realistically, what employer will sit and wait 6 to 10 years for an employee to get to the US with a permanent resident visa? The waiting periods of time are too long, and completely out of touch with reality. As for the borders, horrible things happen to many who choose to "sneak" into the US. I have had clients raped, children disappear, "coyotes" (people who arrange for and transport undocumented persons across the border) threaten families left behind and charging incredible sums of money, and people dying while trying to sneak into the US. It is a bad situation for our country, and for those trying to cross our borders illegally. Fines shoudl be the answer. Remember, however, that many families consist of 4 and 5 people who are here in undocumented status (parents and children). If the fines are too large, no one will be able to afford to pay them.
jeff meyer February 03, 2013 at 02:27 PM
What are nation now has in terms of immigration policy is the worst of everything. A underground society of millions. Immigration reform is a must. Simplify the naturalization process for a pathway to citizenship. Encourage non citizens to emerge from the shadows and be employed "on the books" and be a part of the American Dream. Go ahead and secure the borders. It may be costly though. However, it that is what it takes to reform this current debacle of a policy then so be it. What gets lost in this debate is the humanity aspect. Common sense and fairness to all should rule the day. Jeff Meyer Tuckahoe, NY
James Adnaraf February 03, 2013 at 04:03 PM
I brought two people into this country legally, and we had to go through the bureaucratic maze, and they waited until they were authorized to physically come here. Remember when Bill Clinton said (paraphrasing) that his constituency was the people who played by the rules? The people who played by the rules and who are waiting according to the rules, are likely to be hurt by immigration reform. Remember, if you are here, and apply for normalization, you successfully jumped the line, because you are here. the people obeying the law and waiting in their home country, we have to respect them. If the fine is a slap on the wrist, it is nothing more than amnesty, which, like the 1986 amnesty, will only bring in millions more. I have lived in Central America, and I have a good idea of why people come here without authorization, and I also know their children came here without any choice. Hence, a big fine for adults, and a small fine for children, or those who would fall under the Dream Act.
Cynthia R Exner February 04, 2013 at 02:27 PM
People are finally having a dialogue about our broken immigration system. Everyone has ideas and this is what our US Senators and US Congressional Repressentatives need to hear. If you have an idea, or a suggestion, contact our US Senators and Representatives and let your voices be heard. These are good suggestions from our citizens, employers and workers. Let Congress hear our voices.
Aidan February 04, 2013 at 09:44 PM
We have a problem because we ignored our own laws. And we insisted that illegals have rights. They have none.
James Adnaraf April 16, 2013 at 11:57 AM
I just read that the bipartisan group of Senators have come up with a proposal that includes about $2000 in fines for those who apply for normalization. There will also be fees for processing. A fine of $2000 is much too low, it will simply encourage more illegal immigration, not deter it, because you now know that the fine is a slap on the wrist. I am in favor of meaningful reform, which must include a fine that truly deters people from violating our laws, no matter how understandable their economic plight is in their home country. A fine of $2000 for an adult who knowlingly violates the law is much too lenient. I was thinking in terms of $15,000-$20,000. We cannot deport everyone who has come here illegally, or overstayed their visa, making their status illegal, but this paltry fine is not acceptable. I can see a minimal fine for children who came here with their parents, but not for adults. The immigration proposal may guarantee Democrats in the Presidency for a generation, as it will increase latino support for them, but it must be opposed as it currently stands, as the fine is much too low.


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