By Bill KadarusmanFriday, May 26, 2006On Thursday, May 26, the Senate passed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform 2006 (CIR 2006), S2611. Even though there are modifications, the majority of the original proposal was intact including the “Access to Earned Adjustment and Mandatory Departure and Reentry” provision that will allow roughly about 11 million illegals to get their legal status in the United States. While this is a victory for many illegals, the battle is not over yet because the House will have to approve the CIR and the President has to sign it before it becomes the law. The House, unlike the Senate, has no plan to legalize the illegals; in fact their plan is to criminalize (felonize) the illegals who are already in this country. Their plan is all about toughening-up the current immigration laws. They plan, among other things, to build more fences and walls along the border of U.S. and Mexico and create electronic systems that can identify illegals when they use fake or someone else’s social security number.The President (Bush) has spoken on this subject matter on May 15, 2006. In his national television address, he specifically would oppose amnesty plan or giving legal status to illegals. He also opposed any plan of deporting all illegals. He supports a middle-ground in which it recognizes the differences between an illegal immigrant who crossed the border recently, and someone who has worked her for many years
and has a home, family and clean-record. Any process to legalization will not be automatic and quick, he said. He wants the illegals to “assimilate” in American society and learn English before they can be granted a permission to stay in this country legally. He supported the temporary worker program that would create a legal path for foreign workers to enter the U.S. and work legally in this country. On that same topic, Bush also said, “Temporary workers must return to their home country at the conclusion of their stay.” Bush also supported a plan to modify the system of hiring illegals, to create a better system for verifying documents and work eligibility. While he is opposed to amnesty or giving legal status to illegals, he is also opposed to deporting all illegals. One thing that the Senate, House, and the President agreed on – increasing the number of border patrol agent and sending the National Guard troops to protect the U.S. and Mexico borders.
Here is a summary of the Access to Earned Adjustment Status and Mandatory Departure and Reentry Program,
S 2611 section 254B and 245C: 1. Access to Earned Adjustment – S 2611 section 245B a. Basic Requirements:i. The alien must be in the U.S. for equal to or more than 5 years before April 5, 2005ii. The alien was” illegal” on April 5, 2006 – illegals are:1. Those who crossed the border2. Those who overstayed their visaiii. The alien must be employed for at least 3 years during the 5 year presence in the U.S. and continued to be employed for the next 6 years (there are exceptions to this which I will not write right now) iv. The alien must pay back taxes during the period of employmentv. The alien is not eligible for 2006 tax refund and not allowed to claim any EarnedIncome Tax Credit or any other Tax Credit before 2006 – NEW
AMENDMENT(Senator Ensign)vi. The alien must pay $3250 fines – NEW AMENDMENTvii. The alien must acquire English language skillsviii. The alien must possess “good moral character” – NEW
AMENDMENT1. No criminal record2. Those who have been convicted of felony charges cannot adjust their status3. Those who have three or more misdemeanor convictions also cannot adjust their status4. Those who have been in the deportation proceedings and do not comply with the order cannot adjust their status
b. Treatment of Applicants who adjust their status:i. They will be granted work authorizationii. They can travel out of the countryiii. After 6 years, they can adjust their status to be Permanent Residentsiv. When they adjust, their application will be put at the end of the line of adjustment applications, behind those who come legally i.e. family-based adjustment
2. Mandatory Departure and Reentry Program – S 2611 section 245Ca. Basic Requirements:i. The alien must be in the U.S. since January 7, 2004ii. The alien was “illegal” since January 7, 2004iii. The alien must have a job (or jobs) (full-time, part-time or self-employed) and have been working during the stay in Americaiv. The alien must surrender any social security number(s) and false identification(s)v. The alien must submit to fingerprinting requirementsb. Treatment of Applicants who apply for Mandatory Departure and Reentry Programi. If granted, the alien must voluntarily leave the U.S.ii. The alien then can apply for admission to the U.S. as an immigrant and be allowed to come back without interviewiii. The alien then must pay $1000 and $500 for each independent (such as wife and children) he or she bringsiv. The alien is not eligible for public benefits or social welfareMy analysis:I am hoping that S 2611 will be passed. I think after everything is settled, the immigrants who really want to stay in this country legally will have had paid their debts to earn freedom to live legally in this country. Virtually all of them have spent five or more years of living in this country with uncertainties about their futures. They have probably been exploited – working long hours for very little wages. Yes, they have broken the law, specifically the immigration laws of the United States, yet they are not criminals even though they are branded as illegals. They don’t steal money or rob a bank to earn income and support their families; they work hard in many restaurants’ kitchens, manufacturers, fields, and many other places that many Americans probably do not want to do. To earn adjustment, they are required to not only pay fines ($3250) but also pay back taxes; they are not eligible for any tax refunds and earned income tax credits or any other credits. In the end, they will probably end up paying over $5000 per-person adjusted. Then they are also required to prove that they have good moral characters, no criminal convictions or charges. Many opponents of CIR often chanted “Uphold the law, send them [illegals] home.” I think not all illegals are criminals. Many of them just want to find better jobs and opportunities for their children, jobs or opportunities they cannot find at their home country. In fact, under the CIR, all felonies and repeat misdemeanor offenders are barred from adjusting their status.For all these reasons, I think S 2611 should be passed.