Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Harry Reid, D-Nev., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., John Kerry, D-Mass., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., have reintroduced comprehensive immigration reform legislation in the Senate.
Menendez’s office said in press release that the bill is “aimed at addressing the broken immigration system with tough, smart, and fair measures.”
The Immigration Policy Center explains that Menendez’s proposal includes the creation of Lawful Prospective Immigration (LPI) status. Applicants for LPI status would be required to submit biometric data, go through security checks and pay a fine. After six to eight years of LPI status, undocumented immigrants could transition to Legal Permanent Resident status only after they pay taxes and additional fines, learn English and U.S. civics, and undergo additional background checks. And even then, LPIs would have to wait behind those already in line for LPR status.
The Policy Center also says the bill includes improvements to regulate the future flow of legal immigrants by creating a standing commission that would study labor market and economic conditions to determine the number of employment-based visas needed. The bill also supports programs that better facilitate immigrant integration, such as enhanced policies to help immigrants learn English and grants for states that successfully integrate newcomers.
This bill won't pass. It wouldn't be likely to get floor time in the Republican-controlled House. But it keeps the conversation going and the heat on what can be done on immigration: for example, an executive order by President Obama to relieve the burden on DREAM students by stopping the deportations.
That goal is aided tremendously by the story of Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer prize-winning journalist who told his story as an undocumented immigrant in the New York Times Magazine and in this video:Vargas might be the most prominent American DREAMer, but he's far from the only one, young people who live daily under the threat of being sent "home" to a country they might not even know, where they might not even know the language, or have a support system of any kind. Hopefully Vargas, the continued efforts of the DREAM students, and this new push from Senate Dems on comprehensive immigration reform will at least result in an end to the deportation of these young people in this administration.