New bill pushes for immigration reform
May 2, 2013
A bill is being drafted by a group of U.S. Senators that will introduce a proposal to reform immigration policies, including undocumented immigrants in the country and border security.
The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 will look to reform how immigrants are granted citizenship by adding a working merit system.
This system will allow immigrants to be allowed citizenship if they have family in the country and if they have working skills that the U.S finds useful.
These skills can apply to three categories: high skilled foreigners in technology and science, workers with a decent range in white collar work and low wage workers.
This bill will also provide immigrants who have been working legally for any agriculture work a fast path to citizenship.
Senators have also agreed on policies regarding undocumented immigrants now living in the U.S.
Undocumented immigrants who have been living in the U.S. who have had a steady job and have no prior criminal records against them, will be allowed a temporary work visa applicable for 10 years.
This allows them to live, work and travel throughout the country legally, but they will not be permanent residents.
If an undocumented immigrant wants to become a full citizen, he or she must wait 13 years before being allowed to start the process.
Senators say that they are enforcing this because they do not want immigrants who have been applying through legal channels and doing it by the book to have to be pushed “to the back of the line.”
“America needs to live up to its melting pot status,” said Austen Edman an English education major at UW-River Falls who has family members who immigrated to America.
Edman said that reform is needed, so that America can have stricter policies while not completely sealing out immigrants.
This bill will help an estimated 4.7 million immigrants, who have been waiting in the system, to finally be allowed access to the country within the next decade.
Border security will also be brought up in this coming bill. According to the Act, Homeland Security will be given $3 billion in funding to help secure border security. Half of this funding will go toward building and maintaining more fencing.
Neil Kraus, associate professor in political science, said that he supports immigration reform, but said that the country needs to take a different stance besides just sealing the border.
“Militarizing the border is not an option” Kraus said. “There is too much border to patrol and fence. Just trying to keep them out isn’t going to work.”
Senators who are working on the bill are hoping that with the new policies they have come up with, they can turn the tide from the now 75 percent of immigrants who are being allowed visas because of family ties to the country, to an equal 50 percent of immigrants being allowed visas because of family, and the other 50 percent being allowed in because of work related opportunities.
The Act was set to be announced and discussed among members on Tuesday, April 17, but was postponed due to the bombing that took place in Boston during the Boston Marathon.
While supporters fear this may affect the outcome of the bill in some ways, depending on what investigators find, they are not worried that the proposal will be postponed for very long at all.
Senators are set to meet about the Act in the coming weeks.
Editors Note: Two paragraphs containing inaccurate reporting have been removed from this story.