"Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity, until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country." President Barack Obama (January 21, 2013)
Less than a week after President Obama reiterated the call for immigration reform, a bipartisan group of Senators proposed a framework to do just that. Two days later, the White House published its own proposal for overhauling the country’s immigration laws.
It gets even better. The two plans agree on key points:
1. Path to citizenship:
“Neither plan permits a direct route to citizenship. A foreign national must first become a permanent resident with a ‘green card,’ and then wait, usually for three to five years more, before being eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.” (Lane Powell)
2. Border security:
Both proposals give law enforcement tools to continue the already significant border control efforts and the proposals also allow for the continued removal of criminals and persons who threaten national security. The proposals could be a source of contention though as many would like to link any other considerations or immigration reform (in particular any provisions related to amnesty) to first strengthening border security. (Scott Legal Services)
3. Employment verification:
“Both proposals discuss use of a reliable federal electronic employment verification system that would be mandatory for all employers. While not referring to the current federal electronic verification program by name, it is commonly believed that both proposals are referring to E-Verify. The ultimate legislation may authorize enhancements to the reliability of E-Verify.” (Morgan Lewis)
There is still a long way to go. The Senate proposal is little more than an outline of positions on immigration reform, and the two plans differ on a number of important issues. And it’s going to be messy, write the lawyers at Morgan Lewis:
“The legislative landscape on immigration reform is in a state of constant flux. In the days following the issuance of the Senate and White House proposals, several additional announcements were made, including an announcement that a group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives is working on its own proposal; the introduction by four U.S. senators of the Immigration Innovation Act, a bill that would expand the number of skilled foreign workers that American companies can hire; and the reintroduction of the Legal Workforce Act, a 2012 bill relating to employment verification.”
No matter. For the millions of undocumented aliens in the country, immigration reform may finally be changing from a dream to reality.
- Immigration Reform: Comparing the Senate Proposal with the White House Proposal - Lane Powell PC
- Immigration Reform Update: What Do The Senate and Presidential Proposals Mean? - Scott Legal Services, P.C.
- The Second Obama Term: President Outlines Major Immigration Overhaul - Morgan Lewis
- Comprehensive Immigration Reform - Patton Boggs LLP
- Comprehensive Immigration Reform On The Rise - Fowler White Boggs
- New Framework Marks Big Step Towards Immigration Reform – XpertHR
- Senators Reach a Bipartisan Agreement for Comprehensive Immigration Reform - Fowler White Boggs P.A.
See also law firm Litter’s comprehensive analysis of current and historical efforts to reform US immigration laws, and what they mean to employers:
Read more about Immigration Reform on JD Supra»