The Senate "Gang of Eight" has crafted a complex and far-reaching revamp of our current immigration system. While critics have opined that immigration reform is not possible in the current political climate, the Senate bill achieves what many thought was not possible; a balanced compromise of political ideology and priorities.
The bill strengthens border control and employment verification, while reorganizing the existing laws to favor immigrants who will contribute to the economy, increase our technology base, and will create jobs.
Just when we thought compromise was dead, the new immigration bill (844 pages) addresses the concerns of both conservative and liberal viewpoints.
A new category of Registered Provisional Immigrant has been added to allow the estimated 10 million undocumented foreign nationals a legal path to residency. The path is a long one, estimate to take 7 years to lawful permanent residency and another 3 years to U.S. citizenship. This category will enable these individuals and their families to obtain legal employment, obtain driver's licenses, pay taxes, attend school, and otherwise become full members of our society.
Excluded are foreign nationals who have a felony conviction or three or more misdemeanor convictions. Terrorists need-not apply as well.
Previously, because of an uncoordinated series of laws, foreign nationals who qualify for permanent visa status, but who may have overstayed their non-immigrant status, could not complete their process without having to leave the country and face a 10 year ban to readmission.
Many of the Registered Provisional Immigrants will be family members of citizens and residents who have approved petitions that cannot be completed.
Now these individuals will have the opportunity to complete their process.
There were other interesting and creative approaches taken in this legislation, including providing for additional investor visa categories and provisions for Canadian retirees.
Conservatives are pleased that the beneficiaries of this legislation will be paying into a trust fund that will cover the expenses associated with these processes.
Best of all, the new bill represents a fair, balanced, and creative approach to a complex series of problems, all reached in the spirit of compromise.
Our government is working!