Just one week after President Barack Obama's second inaugural address wherein he declared his views on immigration, a bipartisan group of eight senators on January 27 agreed on a proposed framework for comprehensive immigration reform. The senators who have agreed to this framework are: Dick Durbin (D-IL), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ).
Although the details of the proposal still need to be fleshed out before it advances through the Senate, it represents a major step towards reforming the current immigration system and creating a path for the millions of illegal immigrants to become citizens.
The framework contains four broad objectives:
Creating a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants already living in the US;
Reforming our current legal immigration system to attract and keep the world's "best and brightest";
Creating an effective employment verification system that will put a stop to the hiring of unauthorized workers; and
Creating a process that would admit future workers to serve workforce needs, while at the same time protecting all workers.
In order to accomplish the first goal, the proposal sets forth a process in which individuals who illegally came or remained in the US are given the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent residency. However, this proposal makes clear that those individuals who illegally entered the US will not be given preferential treatment and will thus be given a Green Card only after every individual who is already waiting in line for a Green Card at the time the legislation is enacted has received his or hers. Further, the framework would provide the US Border Patrol the latest technology to prevent and detect illegal immigrants, more surveillance equipment and more agents.
The second goal is to ensure America's economic prosperity. Currently the immigration legal system discourages the "best and the brightest" individuals from coming to the US. The proposal would award Green Cards to those immigrants who receive an advanced degree-PhD or Master's degree from an American university in science, technology, engineering or math.
With respect to the third objective, employers should be aware that the framework makes clear that employers will remain accountable for knowingly hiring undocumented workers and could face monetary fines and criminal penalties for egregious offenses. To ensure that employers are hiring an authorized workforce, the framework proposes that the federal government provide US employers with a "fast and reliable method to confirm whether new hires are legally authorized to work in the United States." As such, their proposal "will create an effective employment verification system which prevents identity theft and ends the hiring of future unauthorized workers."
In connection with the fourth objective, the proposal would allow businesses to hire lower-skilled immigrant workers when Americans are unavailable or unwilling to perform available jobs. Workers who have succeeded and contributed over a certain amount of years would be eligible to receive Green Cards.
Continue to check with XpertHR for further coverage on immigration reform.
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