• Immigration Reform Bill Unveiled
  • April 24, 2013
  • Law Firm: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office
  • This week, the bipartisan Gang of 8 unveiled their comprehensive immigration reform bill. The highlights of the proposal include:

    Increased border security

    The Gang of 8 legislation calls for $3 billion to beef up border security, which includes fortifying fences, staffing up patrols and acquiring surveillance technology from the Department of Defense - including drones and drone pilots, according to the summary.

    It also requires constant surveillance of high-risk border areas and demands that border officers turn back at least 90 percent of those who attempt illegal border crossings each year.

    Path to legal residency

    The bipartisan legislation would provide a path to legal residency for some of the illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. Only illegal immigrants who arrived before December 31, 2011 would be eligible for legal residency.

    For those eligible, the bill requires undocumented immigrants to pay a penalty of up to $500 and show that they have paid taxes since they arrived in this country. The path to legal residency would be barred for those who have committed a felony or three or more misdemeanors.

    After 10 years as a “provisional” resident, an applicant could apply for lawful permanent residency with the payment of a $1,000 fee.

    Agricultural workers

    The Gang of 8 proposal creates a new legal status: a blue card. The blue card would be available to agricultural workers who are currently in the country illegally, and have worked in the American agricultural industry for at least 100 days over the last two years.

    Applicants would be required to pay a $400 fee, show they have paid their taxes and have not committed a crime. The bill caps the blue cards at about 112,000 for the first five years.

    Blue card holders would be eligible for permanent legal residency in five years, half the time of other adult immigrants in the country illegally.

    Future uncertain

    While the bipartisan Senate bill is a positive for immigration reform supporters, the future of comprehensive immigration reform in the House remains much murkier. While a bipartisan group in the House is expected to unveil its own proposal soon, it is unclear at this point whether the House will move a comprehensive bill or choose to move immigration piece by piece.