President Obama

President Obama (courtesy of LA Progressive)

Below is a brief summary of the White House’s comprehensive immigration proposal, which would allow 11 million undocumented immigrants to apply for a newly created “Lawful Perspective Immigrant” visa. The requirements are as follows:

  • Pass a criminal background check (an immigrant would be disqualified for this visa if they committed a crime which required prison time either here or abroad).
  • Complete a biometrics assessment and pay fees.

If approved for this visa, applicants could then apply for the same status for a family member outside of the U.S. Applicants will also be allowed to leave the U.S. for a short period of time and could legally reside here for at least 4 years. All immigrants who qualify would be allowed to apply, including those who are currently being detained by immigration enforcement agencies.

In order to enact this, the following changes would need to be implemented:

  • New “tamper-proof Social Security cards will be issued in order to curb fraud.
  • E-Verify will be expanded, with the intent that all businesses will utilize the program within 4 years.

The Department of Homeland Security will have an amplified role as well:

  • They could accept donations to improve entry and security along our borders.
  • They will oversee new technology and appoint more judges to protect our laws and points of entry.
  • They will receive $40 million to train businesses on the new E-Verify standards.
  • They will also provide detailed reports on border patrol and the effectiveness of these new laws with the necessary industries (such as the agriculture industry).

Ironically, the White House proposal did not address how to handle our current process for legal immigration. I find this to be interesting, given the fact that this is one central policy that both Republicans and Democrats agree upon. Most of our elected officials agree that increasing the amount of visas for skilled labor, particularly in areas of math, science and technology, are critical to the U.S.’s long-term competitive advantage. I also did not find anything regarding the trade unions, chambers of commerce, and other special interest groups, which have also been actively involved in these discussions. The trade unions in particular, along with the Chambers of Commerce, have been in a series of dialogues regarding the impact of creating a guest worker program. Lastly, there was also no reference to the direct impact this proposal would have on Deferred Action.

What is also important to note is that this is just a proposal. This is not a mandate from the White House. Although it is not immediately clear as to why the White House leaked this document, it does provide us with an idea of what the President would propose if a comprise is not reached within our Senate and House of Representatives in the coming months. I also found it interesting how the President did not go into these details during his speech a few weeks back in Las Vegas, as well as during the his televised State of the Union address last week.

The President’s proposal did meet some partisan rhetoric upon its release. Senator Marco Rubio, the leading face of immigration reform for the Republicans, stated that the proposal would be “dead upon arrival if brought to the Senate. Rubio also stated that the White House proposal would make our current immigration problem worse. During the Sunday morning talk shows, Senator John McCain also weighed in, accusing the administration of leaking this information for political gain. Rather than speaking to the proposal, he emphasized the progress that the “gang of eight” Senate leaders had made, and stressed that their bill would be crafted to cater to both political parties.

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