Saturday, March 6, 2010

La Opinion on the Schumer Senate Bill

Yesterday, Kevin Johnson reported on the LA Times piece related to the President's meeting with key Senate leaders on immigration reform. Antonieta Cádiz writes this related piece in La Opinion:

WASHINGTON, D.C.- “Nothing has been written yet” stated various sources involved in the process. However, if immigration reform were to materialize today, it would include considerably minor penalties, no touchback and for those who are undocumented and do not have criminal records, legalization would be awarded.

Beginning last June, the President of the Senate’s Immigration Subcommittee, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), publicly announced his commitment to push the legislation in the Senate.

Last July, the Senator defined the proposal’s general pillars: “control of operations at the border, one year after the legislation has been promulgated; implementation of an identity verification biometric system; registration of all undocumented individuals in order to initiate the legalization process, otherwise all undocumented individuals will have to leave the country; provide incentives for family reunification within the context of legal immigration; promote the development of foreign talent within the context of legal immigration and the creation of a system that regulates the flow of future immigrants in an efficient manner.”

Schumer has worked for more than a year with Republican Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to obtain a bipartisan bill that will be able to survive in the Senate and to prevent the failure of previous legislation. Advancements in these negotiations have been strictly confidential.

So far the legislator has spoken to diverse interested parts, according to what Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) confirmed this week to La Opinion. Through the negotiation table, syndicates, businesses, religious groups, activists and congressmen, among others have passed.

Sources close to the process confirmed to La Opinion, that in the area of legalization, the proposal that has been discussed so far would have “substantially lower penalties” compared to the McCain-Kennedy bill. In this context, the undocumented will have to pay the cost of processing their application, which is expected to be $500 per immigrant.

“There is no touchback,” which was the provision required in the previous bill, where immigrants would have to leave the country to obtain their legalization.

In addition, the 600 thousand individuals who currently have orders of removal - which were not included in the McCain-Kennedy bill, “would be legalized unless they were criminals,” according to sources involved in the process.

In this scenario, the undocumented would have to register and provide their fingerprints to the government, which would be checked for criminal records. If no criminal records are found, the undocumented would obtain a biometric Social Security card, allowing them to work.

Individuals, on the other hand, will have to demonstrate that they have a job. “It would not be allowed for individuals that do not have a job to have papers, unless one of the members of the family is employed. However, if members of the entire family do not have employment, then the entire family will not be allowed to hold papers.”

Employers will have a window to declare the undocumented workers, without being penalize by ICE.

Undocumented immigrants will receive a Lawful Prospective Immigrant Status, which will result in a greencard, but this will only happen once the current individuals that have filed an immigration petition, have received it.

The implications that the legalization of 12 million people could bring to the United States, have been a major concern during these numerous months of negotiations, especially given the trends that have occurred in the past and despite how immigrants have been treated and cataloged.

In this context and parallel to negotiations in the Senate, various groups have made an effort to show with numbers, the importance of preventing past mistakes and to show the most influential tendencies for the U.S. population today.

Some senators received results of a poll, accessed by La Opinion and performed by Benenson Strategy Group, between December 19 and 20, 2009, which sampled 800 likely voters for the November 2010 elections.

The poll compared public trends and asked about two choices: plead guilty to a crime versus a tax surcharge for a period of five years, in exchange for legalization.

The results of the poll indicated by a more than 60% margin that voters support an immigration reform proposal that requires undocumented immigrants to register, meet conditions like passing a background check and studying English, and pay a 5% surcharge on their income taxes for 5 years (80% support, 19% oppose, with 52% strongly supporting it). By comparison, the same proposal containing a requirement that illegal immigrants plead guilty to a crime for being here illegally has 26% net support (62% support, 36% oppose, with 24% strongly supporting it).

Sources close to the negotiations said the option to plead guilty to a crime for legalization in an immigration reform bill, is not within the options being considered today.


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