[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n Tuesday, April 16, a group of eight U.S. Senators introduced the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act,” a bipartisan proposal for immigration reform. As much as the reform was anticipated by immigrants and their families, many can argue that it has both positive and negative sides to it.
[pullquote align=”right”]“When experts reflect on the failure of the 1986 law in preventing unlawful immigration, the first analysis always speaks to the fact that the bill didn’t apply to all immigrants in the U.S. at the time of passage,” said Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA. “Once again, today’s proposal, in cutting off eligibility to immigrants in the U.S. before 2012, creates an instant population of ineligible but present immigrants.”[/pullquote]
According to the Latino Policy Forum, the good part about the bill is the access to a Registered Provisional Immigrant status for millions of undocumented immigrants, expedited opportunities for citizenship for those who arrived in the United States as children, and several provisions for family reunification, including opportunities for children and spouses of Legal Permanent Residents to become “immediate relatives.”
Some of the concerns of the bill, according to the Forum, are regarding the return on a proposed 4.5 billion dollar additional investment on the U.S. southern border. Increased investments in the border only add to the running tab of 187 billion dollars spent on immigration enforcement since 1986 – more than the investment in all other federal criminal law enforcement agencies combined.
“We are looking for a piece of legislation that meets the needs of a 21st century economy, and at the same time renews the American commitment to the dignity and capacity of people living and working within our borders and the indelible right to humane and equal treatment under the law—not just one that is politically viable,” said Luis Gutierrez, co-chair of the Latino Policy Forum’s Immigration Acuerdo and executive director of Latinos Progresando.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) is pleased that the legislation includes reforms to the legal immigration system that speed the unification of spouses and minor children with their lawful permanent resident loved ones, and eliminate the lengthy backlogs that have caused such hardships on immigrant families over the years. The legislation includes a new temporary worker program that is responsive to labor market needs while providing important worker protections that guarantee fair conditions for both native-born and immigrant workers.
“We are concerned about the length of time on the path. Thirteen years, we believe, is too long. We are concerned about the elimination of family and diversity visas. We are concerned about the increase of deportations,” said Lawrence Benito, CEO of ICIRR. “We are not happy of all parts of it [the bill]. We will continue to raise the voice of families. We want to make sure that workers are protected.”
For more information on the new immigration reform and how to find recourses on immigrant issues, you can call the ICIRR hotline: 855-435-7693.
On April 17, ICIRR held a press conference with immigrant speakers in reference to the new immigration reform.
“[Familiares esperaron] más de 20 años sólo para ver que dos de ellos muriesen al final de su petición. La petición apareció en nuestra casa el día que mi padre estaba en el funeral [de mi tío]. Yo estoy aquí apoyando a millones de familias inmigrantes que tienen esperanza en reunirse con sus hermanos y hermanas”. “
[Family members waited] over 20 years only to have two of them die at the end of their petition. The petition showed up in our house the day my father was at [my uncle’s] funeral. I am here to stand up for millions immigrant families who have hope to reunite with their brothers and sisters.” – Kristina Tendilla
“He vivido en EE.UU. los últimos 15 años. Puedo beneficiarme de esta iniciativa, pero veo que es injusta para gente como yo, sin récord criminal, que ha trabajado duro y no ha cometido crimen alguno. Esperar 10 años y seguir pagando impuestos es injusto”.
“I have lived in the US for the last 15 years. I can benefit from this bill but I find it’s unfair for people like me who don’t have criminal record and have been working hard and have not committed any crime. Waiting 10 years and continuing to pay taxes is unfair.” – Joel Camacho
“Tengo 19 años. Me trajeron aquí cuando tenía dos meses. Ser indocumentada me ha traído muchos obstáculos. Ahora, en unos cinco años, podré recibir una tarjeta verde, pero mis padres habrán de esperar 10 años más. Ya han esperado 20 años”.
“I am 19-years-old. I was brought here when I was two-months-old. Being undocumented has brought many obstacles. Now, in about five years, I will be able to receive a green card but my parents will have to wait 10 more years. They have been waiting 20 years.” – Sandra Briceño