Discussion on Immigration Reform Revived

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On January 30, 2014, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives released a set of broad “standards” for immigration reform.  Issued in draft form, the standards would allow many undocumented immigrants to live legally in the United States if they meet a set of stringent requirements and if equally stringent border security triggers are met. Indeed, the group indicated that border security and interior enforcement are first on their agenda. Comprehensive legislation will be rejected.

Adamantly opposed to an “amnesty,” the draft from House Republicans did offer a potential blueprint for how most of the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants can “come out of the shadows” and live without the threat of deportation.  Likely requirements for obtaining probationary legal status would include passing rigorous background checks, paying significant fines and back taxes, developing proficiency in English and American civics, and being able to support themselves and their families financially without access to public benefits.

Importantly, the draft did not say whether undocumented immigrants who obtain probationary legal status will be eligible for green cards or eventual citizenship, but it does encourage a path to citizenship for undocumented children who were brought into the country at a young age.