Well, 2013 came and went without any real decision being made on immigration reform. A bill, known as S. 744, was first introduced in the Senate in April of last year. It was passed by the Senate, but stalled in the House.
However, revised immigration reforms have been offered by House Republicans. These Republican-led “principles” are considered a type of bridge in order to get immigration reform passed this year. In January of this year, Congressional Republicans released a one-page document describing their proposal.
However, there are some important details that must not be overlooked when discussing these proposed principles. To begin with, undocumented immigrants who were brought into this country as young children would be treated with more leniency than undocumented adults.
In general, those who were brought over at a young age and without inspection will receive legal residency and citizenship if they are capable of meeting certain requirements. This includes the alien having served in the military or getting a college degree.
Meanwhile, those who came to the U.S. as undocumented adults will be offered only the opportunity to “live legally and without fear in the U.S.” This means that if these undocumented immigrants meet certain qualifications, they might be granted a small amount of limited relief. To get this relief, this group of immigrants must pay hefty fines and any back taxes, pass background checks, and develop a certain amount of proficiency in English and American civics. It is also required that they admit their culpability.
Specifically, the proposals state: One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents. It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own, those who know no other place as home. For those who meet certain eligibility standards, and serve honorably in our military or attain a college degree, we will do just that.
Our national and economic security depend on requiring people who are living and working here illegally to come forward and get right with the law. There will be no special path to citizenship for individuals who broke our nation's immigration laws – that would be unfair to those immigrants who have played by the rules and harmful to promoting the rule of law.
You can read the entire, full text of the Republicans principles on immigration here.
Unfortunately, these principles do not allow very much opportunity for most undocumented adults. These are people who have risked incarceration and deportation proceedings in order to provide a better life for their children. This concern is highlighted well in a recent article published by azcentral.com. In the article, Edder Diaz Martinez speaks of how these latest revisions will benefit him, but he is concerned about what is left for his mother, Angelica Martinez.
Ms. Martinez came to the U.S. without inspection almost twenty years ago. Edder was only a young child. Edder is generally pleased with the possible reforms, but doesn't want his mother to suffer. “It's not enough,” Diaz said. “We personally would get citizenship, but it's our parents who are the reasons we are here in the first place.
What are your thoughts? Have the Republicans completely missed what immigration reform is all about?