Obama's Expected Immigration Reform Bill

USA Today has obtained a draft of President Obama's proposed immigration reform bill. It reports there is a path to lawful residency included in the bill, which will take 8 years. During this time, those working towards citizenship will receive a Lawful Prospective Immigrant Visa.

The bill sounds similar to the unsuccessful 2011 Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (S.1258)and the 2009 and 2007 bills before that. [More...]

In past bills, a "lawful prospective immigrant" was one filed the initial registration for legalization, paid the fees, and passed the background checks. They would be granted work authorization and permission to remain in the U.S. Eight years later, they will be allowed to apply for LPR (lawful permanent resident) status.

There are approximately 11 million undocumented residents in the U.S. Here's a fact sheet as to who they are. Here are some reasons a path to citizenship is a good idea.

The White House has a lot of Obama's "blueprint" up on its website. The "gang of 8"'s proposal basics are here.

Here is what the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is seeking.

Immigration reform needs to provide not just more immigration judges, but investing them with more discretion. Via AILA:

Long-time residents are subject to deportation even when they have strong ties to the community, pay taxes, and desperately want to become full-fledged members of our society. Many are eligible to apply for legal status, but because they lived in the U.S. for a period of time that was unauthorized they are now barred from fixing their status. Judges often have no ability to weigh the individual circumstances of the case while low-level officials often act as judge and jury, and the federal courts have been denied the power to review most agency decisions. Congress should restore fairness and flexibility to our system by authorizing immigration judges and officials to exercise discretion in considering the individual circumstances of each case," she concluded.

The Reform Enforcement Caucus has these ten essential principles of immigration reform. They include:

No More Excessive Penalties

We oppose expansion of excessive penalties for immigration violations, the separation of families, and the criminalization of communities – all of which have compromised due process and other fundamental rights

Ending reliance on detention: 34,000 immigrants are held daily.

Immigration law should ensure that people are not detained without access to individual custody determinations and constitutionally adequate bond hearings.

On the expansion of E-Verify:

Proposals to expand employment verification regimes would rely on massive, often inaccurate, databases. Inclusion of a biometric identification system would also threaten the right to privacy. Federal information sharing systems, including databases at several different agencies, lack protections and oversight needed. Reform should be mindful of the need to protect privacy.

Family Reunification:

Protecting the unity of the family must be at the heart of immigration policy. Reform should restore judicial discretion to immigration judges; provide a meaningful opportunity for parents to make care-giving decisions and participate in child custody proceedings; provide waivers to allow for family reunification for people following deportation; and a sensibly revise the family-based immigration system to reduce long backlogs.

A roadmap to citizenship, like all parts of our immigration law, should aim to keep families together,including those family members who have had past contact with law enforcement.

Judicial Discretion:

Mandatory detention and deportation laws have stripped judges of the discretion to consider the equities of individual cases. Lack of access to counsel, arbitrary limitations on independent judicial review in removal proceedings, and failure to provide constitutionally adequate bond hearings for people in immigration custody each limit access to a fair day in court. Immigration reform must ensure equal protection of the laws for all people.

The roadmap to citizenship must be just and fair with guarantees of effective oversight through judicial review. The due process problems in the detention and removal systems must be eliminated and additional enforcement measures that risk compromising due process and civil liberties avoided.

Also see, The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) A New Path toward humane immigration policy. Immigrants, regardless of status, deserve the same civil and human rights as all U.S. residents. Among their recommendations:

  • End arrests, detention, and deportation of immigrants.
  • Halt community sweeps, checkpoints, and roadblocks.
  • Eliminate detention practices that separate family members, particularly parents from their children.
  • Exercise discretion in arresting people for immigration violations, especially in cases that involve children or other vulnerable populations.
  • Eliminate all agreements between the Department of Homeland Security and local/county/state
    law enforcement agencies (287g)*.
  • Ensure the due process rights of immigrants in detention, deportation, or removal proceedings
  • Repeal immigration laws that mandate deportation and lead to double punishments for individuals who have served time on criminal offenses.

The Southeast Immigrant Rights Network has these principles of reform.

[P]roposals should provide opportunities for all undocumented immigrants to permanently regularize their status, expand the availability of legal immigration options, restore due process for all immigrants, demilitarize the border and end the widespread criminalization of immigrants.

1. An immediate moratorium on detentions and deportations

2. An immediate end to Secure Communities, 287(g) agreements, to all ICE/local enforcement programs, and to prosecution for immigration-related conduct that are non-criminal offenses, such as unlawful entry, driving without a license or other violations committed because of being undocumented. These programs lead to unconstitutional arrests and widespread racial profiling.

3. A legalization process that offers opportunities for all undocumented immigrants to become legal permanent residents, and:

  • is affordable , straightforward and does not create such an unreasonable burden that it discourages people from applying
  • provides the right of return to immigrants who have been deported over the last four years
  • makes waivers available for applicants who fall under the Immigration and Nationality Act’s grounds of exclusion
  • Includes the right to work and travel freely while the application is being adjudicated
  • Offers access to all services, benefits and protections available to permanent residents

4. Expansion of opportunities for legal immigration, including:

  • immediate processing of the backlog of pending visa applications
  • increased number of family based visas
  • recognizing same sex marriages/domestic partnerships under the family visa system
  • eliminating harsh obstacles to immigrating or that further separate families, including high income requirements for immigrant sponsors and the 3 and 10 year bans for previous entry

5. End border militarization.

6. End temporary worker programs entirely. If temporary worker programs continue to exist, they must guarantee fundamental rights and include protections for every worker admitted under the program.

7. End mandatory electronic verification programs.

The National Immigrant Law Center has these principles and recommendations. The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIR) has this collection of resources.

When viewed against what real reform requires, President Obama's plan is a bare bones minimum starting point. That Republicans oppose such mild reform proposals is reflective of their customary bigotry. Here's a chart of who will get cut out of reform if Obama's plan gets whittled down. Here's how Republican proposals would lead to more mass incarceration.

One reform everyone can make is to drop the word "illegal" from the discussion. No human being is illegal. Undocumented residents and undocumented immigrants are far better terms. Comments referring to persons as "illegal" will likely be deleted.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Just when I think Obama will do something (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 01:06:58 PM EST
    right, we get this:

    The plan also would provide for more security funding and require business owners to check the immigration status of new hires within four years. In addition, the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants could apply for a newly created "Lawful Prospective Immigrant" visa, under the draft bill being written by the White House.

    If approved, they could then apply for the same provisional legal status for their spouse or children living outside the country, according to the draft.

    Four years?? Up to four years for the employer to check?

    And it isn't 11 million, 30 million...

    And it is obvious the border will not be closed.

    This is just politics. Not an attempt to fix the problem.

    I seriously that Nancy Reagan meant ... (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 05:30:41 PM EST
    ... her "Just Say No" campaign to apply to the GOP's public policy positions.

    If you don't like the White house's draft proposal, then  I would suggest that you and your party get your acts together, develop and put forth your own proposal as a counteroffer to commence serious discussion, and above all else, quit your incessant whining about the subject. Honestly, it's like listening to a bunch of petulant 10-year-olds.

    And FYI, Jim, 10% of the country is not comprised of undocumented immigrants -- unless, of course, you're strictly polling the inhabitants of your Radio Nowhere's fabled parallel universe.


    Seriously Donald, the number 11 million (none / 0) (#11)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 09:14:48 AM EST
    is what is being used, NOW.

    When you allow them to bring in family then 30 million is the actual number.

    Do you ever read before you comment?


    link? (none / 0) (#12)
    by sj on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:38:08 AM EST
    No need (5.00 / 4) (#14)
    by Yman on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:58:25 AM EST
    He heard it on the radio ...

    Try Google (1.00 / 2) (#16)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 01:33:01 PM EST
    Then read.

    Then apply math.


    So, shorter jim: "I got nuthin'" (5.00 / 3) (#17)
    by Anne on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 02:01:15 PM EST
    If you had a link, you'd provide one; since you don't, your usual course of action is to send people off to look for something that supports your contention.

    The easier thing to do is find something that doesn't; Jeralyn provided a link, which I followed to another.

    See here, if you choose.

    Here, I'll get you started:

    Number Holds Steady at 11 million, Three-Fifths Have Been Here More Than a Decade

    Recent estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) indicate that the number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States has remained unchanged at roughly 11 million since 2009.  This comes after a two-year decline of approximately one million that corresponded closely to the most recent recession, which ran from December 2007 to June 2009.  Despite that decline, the new data make clear that the current population of unauthorized immigrants is very much part of the social and economic fabric of the country.  Three-fifths of unauthorized immigrants have been in the United States for more than a decade.  Unauthorized immigrants comprise more than one-quarter of the foreign-born population and roughly 1-in-20 workers.  Approximately 4.5 million native-born U.S.-citizen children have at least one unauthorized parent.  While the largest numbers of unauthorized immigrants are concentrated in California and Texas, there also are sizable unauthorized populations in Florida, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Georgia, North Carolina, and Maryland.  In short, unauthorized immigrants who are already in the country have become integral to U.S. businesses, communities, and families.

    The size of the unauthorized population has remained unchanged at roughly 11 million since 2009.

    ■The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that there were 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants in the country as of 2010, nearly the same as the previous year's estimate of 11.1 million.  This was down from a high of 12 million in 2007, but up from 8.4 million in 2000.

    ■The DHS Office of Immigration Statistics estimates 10.8 million unauthorized immigrants as of 2010, virtually unchanged from the previous year.  This was down from a high of 11.8 million in 2007, but up from 8.5 million in 2000



    Wow, I'm impressed (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by sj on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 03:19:45 PM EST
    I told Teresa I downrated for three things
    1.Obstinate stupid
    2.really, really bad logic
    3.Outright hostility or passive agressive hostility

    and then later amended by adding
    4.Making up your own facts

    You managed three -- and most likely ultimately all four -- using seven words.  Count 'em:

    new] Try Google (none / 0) (#16)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 01:33:01 PM EST

    Then read.
    Then apply math.


    Those who buy what jim's selling (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by Anne on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 03:45:17 PM EST
    would probably also believe that he's a French model.

    Ha! (none / 0) (#21)
    by sj on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 03:50:08 PM EST
    It wouldn't ... (none / 0) (#23)
    by Yman on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 06:55:49 PM EST
    So, oppose the bill (none / 0) (#15)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 11:16:22 AM EST
    Let the Republicans and nativists and zenophobes and bigots twist in the wind....

    I would prefer that (none / 0) (#6)
    by MKS on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 05:18:11 PM EST
    that the undocumented be given citizenship in time for the 2014 elections.

    Let the Republicans block that at their peril.


    The whole (none / 0) (#7)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 05:27:13 PM EST
    check thing is a farce anyway. They passed a bill here in GA and it did exactly nothing.

    I (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by lentinel on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 01:10:20 PM EST
    hope someday that people will considered people of the world.

    I would like it to be as easy for people to live in one country or another as it is to move from state to state or city to city in the US.

    As a naturalized citizen (5.00 / 4) (#3)
    by NYShooter on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 01:37:53 PM EST
    I think you've got something there.

    From my experience I've found that most foreigners who come to America hoping to become citizens are more motivated, and have a better understanding of what it means to be a citizen, than most current, native born Americans do.

    Now, if only the Government could come up with some way to incentivise a large portion of current Americans to leave, and curse some other country, we'd have a good shot at becoming the type of democratic nation many of us only dream about.


    Lots of talk, little walk (none / 0) (#4)
    by koshembos on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 01:43:03 PM EST
    Eight years wait seems excessive. Increased security and checks seem punitive. Obama always was 99% for the 1% and 1% for the 99%.

    Would Canadians (none / 0) (#5)
    by Natal on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 04:55:30 PM EST
    living and working illegally be covered?  

    Why in the world would we ever ... (none / 0) (#9)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 05:43:07 PM EST
    ... want to let Canadians live in this country? Weren't the Irish and Italians bad enough?

    You know, there are probably more (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 03:21:28 PM EST
    than a few people who will think you are serious.

    For us dual citizenship (none / 0) (#10)
    by Natal on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 08:33:42 PM EST
    the best of both worlds.  No matter what you Americans say about us we have a lot of affection for your country despite the politics. :-)

    IIRC the last time we tried this (none / 0) (#13)
    by MO Blue on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:44:58 AM EST
    after the bill was adjusted to get Republican support the groups who were for real immigration reform were begging Democratic congressmen to vote against it since it caused more harm than good.

    Let's hope that Congress does a better job this time.