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The Senate's Immigration Plan

The bipartisan Senate plan for comprehensive immigration reform calls for increased border while providing a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

I have been reading the comments on my blog posts and am taking this opportunity to respond to them. Some readers are disappointed that I am not putting forth my opinions on this blog. The purpose of this blog is to cut through the noise and to present the facts on immigration—not opinion. It is easy to find opinions on immigration—just go to MSNBC or to Fox News. This blog presents the facts, cuts through the noise and allows the readers to come to their own conclusions. Now, let's discuss the Senate plan on Comprehensive Immigration Reform:

On Jan. 27, a bipartisan group of eight senators introduced their framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. (Charles Schumer, D. NY; John McCain, R. AZ; Richard Durbin, D. IL; Lindsay Graham, R. S.C.; Robert Menendez, D. NJ; Marco Rubio, R. FL., Michael Bennett, D. CO.; and, Jeff Flake, R. AZ). This plan has four main components:

  •  Create a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States.  Unauthorized immigrants will not be able to obtain lawful permanent resident status (green-cards) or citizenship until the borders are secure and the Government has implement a program to track whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
  • Reform the legal system to help the American economy and to strengthen American families;
  • Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of unauthorized workers; and,
  • Establish a process for admitting further workers to meet our nation’s needs, while simultaneously protecting U.S. workers.

Path to Citizenship Once The Borders Are Secure

To better secure the borders, the Senate bipartisan plan calls for improved infrastructure at the border, providing Border Patrol with the latest technology and with the necessary personnel to prevent, detect, and apprehend every unauthorized entrant. 

As I mentioned in my previous post “Is the U.S. Border Secure?" in 2011 the United States government spent $18 billion on immigration enforcement. By contrast, that same year, the government spent a total of $14.4 billion on the rest of federal law enforcement combined including the FBI, the Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the Drug Enforcement Agency.  Additionally, in 2011, there was no net migration from Mexico to the United States. 

The legislation calls for an increase in the number of drones and surveillance equipment at the border and for an increase in the number of border patrol agents. Right now Border Patrol uses nine predator drones and 14 manned P-3 Orion aircraft. In 2011, the drones helped to intercept 7,600 pounds of marijuana. The manned P-3 Orion aircraft helped intercept 148,000 pounds of cocaine. 

As for an increase in border patrol agents, right now their number is at a historic high. According to the Customs and Border Protection website, in 1993 there were 4,028 border patrol agents nation-wide; 10 years later, in 2003, there were 10,717 agents; and today there are 21,394 agents.

The legislation calls for increased training and oversight of border patrol agents to reduce racial profiling and the inappropriate use of force. It calls for an entry-exit system that tracks whether all persons entering the United States on temporary visas via airports and seaports leave the country when their visas expire. It calls for a commission of governors, attorneys general, and community leaders living along the Southwest border to monitor the progress of securing the border and to make a recommendation regarding when the bill’s security measures are completed.

While these security measures are being implemented, the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States will be required to register with the government, pass a background check, pay a fine, show proof of payment of back taxes and will earn probationary legal status which will allow them to live and work in the United States legally.

Probationary status will be different from permanent resident status (having a green card) because these people will not be allowed to count the years that they are living in the United States in this status toward citizenship, they will not be able to file immigrant visa petitions for minor children or spouses living outside the U.S., and it is unclear if they will be able to travel outside of the U.S. while on this status. Like most immigrants, people on probationary status will be unable to access any federal public benefits. 

Once the government believes that the border is secure, individuals on probationary status will be eligible to get their green cards. Now here is where it gets very tricky, first, how does the government determine that the border is secure? Will it rely on opinion polls or will it rely on an objective framework such as the number of border patrol agents nation-wide or on the level of migration from Mexico and Canada? It is unclear.

The framework provides that to be eligible to obtain green cards, the applicants will have to pass an additional background check, pay taxes, learn English and civics, and demonstrate a history of work in the United States and demonstrate current employment. Plus, the applicants will have to go to the “back of the line” in order to immigrate. According to the Department of State, the line stretches back for 24.5 years—brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens who are from the Philippines. It’s possible that in probationary status will have to wait 25 years to get their green cards. 

According to some well-known immigration attorneys, when you actually do the math, the line to get an immigrant visa can be as long as 395 years. David Simmons, an immigration attorney in Colorado, states, “it's not enough to know how long the line is. You need to know how fast the line moves. Just like at the supermarket. The wait for someone getting a visa today was as long as 24 years. The wait for someone starting today is much longer. An extreme example is [unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents from Mexico who are 21 or older]. The last time I took the difference between the cut-off date and the present date, then factored in the rate of "advance," the anticipated delay for someone applying today under that category was 395 years. [Unmarried sons and daughters from Mexico who were 21 or older] was "only" about 80-85 years. Please be advised that I have not verified this mathematical equation.

The Senate plan provides that two groups of undocumented immigrants will not have to “get to the back of the line” to get their green cards: 1) People who entered the United States as minor children and did not knowingly choose to violate any immigration laws; and, 2) agricultural workers.

Changes In The Immigration System

The Senate framework discusses the importance of building the American economy and strengthening American families. The framework discusses reducing backlogs in family-based and in employment-based immigration. It is unclear how the Senate framework plans to reduce the back-logs. The framework also proposes giving green cards to all students who have received a doctoral or master’s degree in science, technology, engineering, or math from an American university. 

Strong Employment Verification

The Senate framework calls for an employment verification system that holds employers accountable for knowingly hiring undocumented immigrations and to make it more difficult for undocumented immigrants to falsify documents to obtain employment. Employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers will face stiff fines and criminal penalties for “egregious” offenses. 

Admitting New Workers and Protecting Workers’ Rights

The Senate plan recognizes a need for lower-skilled workers in the United States.  The framework calls for a program to enable business to hire lower-skilled workers quickly when U.S. workers are unavailable or unwilling to fill those jobs.  The proposed Senate legislation would allow employers to hire immigrants if the employer can show that they could not recruit a U.S. worker for the job and hiring the immigrant would not displace U.S. workers.

The Senate commission proposes creating a special agriculture program to hire immigrants when U.S. workers are not available to fill open positions. The Senate would allow more lower-skilled immigrants to come to the U.S. when the economy is creating jobs and fewer when the economy is not creating jobs. The Senate plan calls for strong labor protections and for eventual green cards for people who have “succeeded in the workplace and contributed to their communities over many years … .” 

The Senate bipartisan plan rethinks immigration policy, provides for secure borders, and provides a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. 

Next Post: The President’s Immigration Plan

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Penny February 23, 2013 at 07:14 PM
It appears the immigration issue is a good scape goat for those who feel they were not given chances because of lost of jobs. I have noticed too many Americans are unwilling to do jobs they feel are below them. For the most part they are a very self centered group of people who would rather blame someone for their losses. Personally I think the playing field is pretty equal and the immigrants are more willing to take chances.
Wire February 23, 2013 at 07:56 PM
I live in a county where we had hops, prunes, apples, where us kids worked the harvest. My friend had a grape vine rooting businesses which were grafted plants. His labor force were the Blacks. Very good workers they were. Then the Great Society was invented. They stopped coming to work. Now back to the great harvesting, the schools stayed closed for the child labor force until the harvest was over. Up in Oregon the hops were picked with Hop Parties as the 5 to 6 kids per family would help each other with their harvesting. You don't see this anymore the small farmer was put out of business. The schools started in September way before the harvest even started. No more child labor work force. Then the LOVE SOCIETY of the sixties. The back killer is those dam strawberries bending down for hours, so the next time you enjoy a fresh strawberry think of someone back!
Cathy P. February 23, 2013 at 08:10 PM
@Penny (in the Napa Valley): "Personally I think the playing field is pretty equal and the immigrants are more willing to take chances." ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Scape goat? Hardly. It's OK with you that those "chances" involve breaking the law?
MICHAEL P WILSON "Independent Kid" February 23, 2013 at 08:24 PM
In other news Obama's friends in N Korea would like to wipe out United States troops. Where is the Boy President anyway? http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/23/us-korea-north-idUSBRE91M05220130223
Robert Fox February 23, 2013 at 08:45 PM
Yeah because so many of us Americans take field work and gardening. I have never heard of a school where American children where so deeply affected by non English speakers. They would probably be put in ESL classes. School is what you make of it. These "kids" that you talk about are the same kids getting drunk on the weekend taking joke classes such as yearbook and pottery and ditching classes. They graduate and are astonished that the high education requirement job doesn't think they're qualified. Then people like you enjoy up blaming the English speakers. It's amazing finding so many homeless people or out of work in Sonoma County when they 're so many jobs here in good old wine country, oh that's right! We Americans don't want to work those jobs because "we're too good for them" so we rather spend it on our asses all day or begging for money outside Costco. Amazing immigrants are actually working they're asses off without legal documentation. Because they're hungry for success, they can't afford being sad and moping all day because what will The Richardsons across the street think when I'm putting my gardening uniform or McDonald's uniform. I should just stay unemployed and say I'm working from home. While we're here debating they're working!We as Americans should have some of the immigrant spirit and work to get American back to its roots. We work hard everyday so our kids don't have to! We need innovation instead of bitching. We need to work for our hard earn cents!
Robert Fox February 23, 2013 at 08:51 PM
We both know what part of Tijuana I'm talking about. The one with the shady streets and the graffiti all over the walls with the guy pissing on the car parked outside of the bar. The one with the dog infestation where there's diapers on the street and mutts everywhere. If you're so proud of that side of Tijuana go back there.
Robert Fox February 23, 2013 at 08:58 PM
Yeah because Egypt and India are really all a stone's throw away from us! They're immigrating to places like England and Germany
Cathy P. February 24, 2013 at 12:20 AM
@Carlos: "all those white people" are fueling the local Mexican economy with $$$, not sending it back home like many Mexicans living here do. The Mexican govt LOVES Americans (Canadians & Europeans too) who decide to live in their country...it's all about the money.
Kevin February 24, 2013 at 12:33 AM
No amnesty until the border fence is built! How hard is that for our bureaucrats to understand?
MICHAEL P WILSON "Independent Kid" February 24, 2013 at 12:33 AM
Just flag as inappropriate. Carlos has internet tough guy syndrome,he is also a one post wonder.
MICHAEL P WILSON "Independent Kid" February 24, 2013 at 12:39 AM
The squatter in the White House would rather not even have a border.
yoyo February 24, 2013 at 01:22 AM
We need to welcome legal immigrants and deport illegal aliens. It's that simple. My family and I immigrated here legally, waiting for our number to be called. It's a slap in the face for people who have applied and waited as long and 5-10 years, before their number is called. Why should lawbreakers be rewarded for breaking the law. If I drive 120mph on the freeway breaking the law, will the CHP pull me over and give me a $100 Target gift card for breaking the law? That's exactly what Obama wants. If I wait in line for hours to buy movie tickets and someone cuts in and buys them, should I accept that? That's what Obama is wanting so he can further cement the future Democratic voters to his party. It's really very simple. If they came here illegally, deport them as we catch them.
None February 24, 2013 at 01:41 AM
Interesting statement re: Legal vs. Illegal Immigration. Why should anyone be rewarded for breaking the law? Another approach might include that anyone who arrived here illegally would forfeit the right to vote for about 10 years, not be eligible to receive any form of government provided subsistence, i.e. Section 8, Food Stamps, or Welfare and agree to pay all back taxes from the time they arrived here. It should also include any fees or taxes that should have been paid by their employer(s) while residing here illegally. I wonder how many would step forth and agree to those terms?
On the right side February 24, 2013 at 04:29 AM
This is VERY simple!! The ILLEGALS ARE BREAKING THE LAW. The penalty is DEPORTATION. Just enforce the law!!!!! End of story. Everything else including the LA chief of police refusing to do his JOB, is just politics. Nothing else.
Wire February 24, 2013 at 05:42 AM
Very simple years back the press-cor had a meeting in Lost Wages, there's no such thing as illegal alien, either undocumented or kinder words. It was all agree up-on. (brain washing) This is why you really don't see those words in the news papers. SEE WHAT I MEAN! THE HEADER ON THIS, IT'S NOT ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION PLAN. The Senate's Immigration Plan
robertmacias February 24, 2013 at 07:10 AM
agree with u wire good job but i guess this people just don't understand how hard it is for them to be bending down for hours i bet if this people talking about immigrants go to the field to pick strawberries they won't be able to do it for 30mins they talk bad about immigrants but when they eat strawberries,raspberries,tomatoes etc. why don't they say anything right there they shouldn't eat it either
Roberto Duran February 24, 2013 at 08:00 AM
Watch the movie "End of Watch" it will show what these illegals are up to.
Manny Mena February 24, 2013 at 11:25 AM
Hard to buy that "child tax" reward idea. I did taxes (for 8 years) for my friend that was an orphan raised by "cousins" in the USA, but was probably born in Mexico. He was a great person with a family of 5. Without a VALID SSAN, you can not get child tax breaks. Turbotax will not accept the numbers to even run a "what-if" scenario. The IRS will not process the tax return without the valid account number and matching birth date. I tried every year to get the benefits for them but made no headway. Yet, I hear from so many that millions are able to do just that....wish they would grant my friend access to their methods...his kids were all born here.
Manny Mena February 24, 2013 at 11:44 AM
The Congressional Report Service (where congressmen get their info) published a report last September that stated that the top 1% quadrupled their holdings in the past 12 years under the "Bush tax cuts" while the remainder of us saw a decline. What makes them " job creators" if unemployment is so high and their profits are increasing so quickly? The "Papa John's Pizza" guy is an example of these job creators. Makes millions every year, has $200 million in company stock, lives in a 40,000 sq ft mansion with 33 cars in his garage......yet he cut hours for his employees so that they did not qualify for benefits. The cost of those benefits was about the same as the cost of those 2 million pizzas he gave away as a promotion during the Super Bowl this year. Cutting taxes for these "job creators" only increases their net worth. They no longer invest in their people and the money for rebuilding infrastructure winds up in the Caymans.
Wire February 24, 2013 at 04:14 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcH9s9L22bU Published on May 22, 2012 Reid Blocks Bill Closing IRS Tax Credit Loophole For Illegal Aliens
JustUs February 24, 2013 at 05:39 PM
IMO Reid is a traitor to the nation. He is selling out his own countrymen on this particular issue. He wants American taxdollars spent to subsidize indigent illegal migrants for children, some of whom don't even reside within out borders. No wonder the world laughs at us. Even peasants from 4th world nations laugh at us. It is a disgrace.
Kevin Moore February 24, 2013 at 07:44 PM
It seems that the GOP and DEMs are falling all over themselves to take credit for fixing this problem. Here is a reply email sent to me in 2005. > Dear Mr. Moore: > > Thank you for writing to me about the "Comprehensive > Enforcement and Immigration Reform Act of 2005" (S. 1438). I > welcome the opportunity to respond. > > I believe that certain aspects of our immigration system are > in need of reform. That said, I do not support the Cornyn-Kyl bill > as drafted, primarily because it contains a broad guest worker > provision under which illegal aliens currently present in the United > States would be eligible to legalize their immigration status. To > me, this could have the effect of further increasing illegal > immigration. > > Nevertheless, I believe immigration reform is badly > needed. I am in the process of drafting my own bill which will > provide for a limited, targeted program for agricultural workers to > legalize their status. I value your input into the legislative process, > and I will keep your views and the interests of all Californians in > mind as I work out the details of my proposal. > > Again, thank you for writing. If you have further > comments on this issue, please do not hesitate to contact my > Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841. Best regards. > > > > > > Sincerely yours, > > Dianne Feinstein > United States Senator > > http://feinstein.senate.gov
Robert Fox February 24, 2013 at 10:02 PM
I'm sure the Mexican cops parents were illegal so that's not a good example
Robert Fox February 24, 2013 at 10:04 PM
And you're a racist for even trying to generalize that all immigrants are drug dealers. How do you even know they were immigrants? Because they're Mexican?
None February 24, 2013 at 10:28 PM
Kevin, it’s evident that Senator Feinstein is cognizant of the concept of illegal immigration; I wonder why the others purporting to represent the legal population of this country fail to recognize it. Any individual entering this country should be aware of our existing rules and laws and the legal way to enter this country. And anyone not following that set of laws, rules and regulations should not get the opportunity to become either a resident or a citizen of this country until all of those who followed the rules are attended to. I just don’t see where we have to reform anything other than enforcing our existing laws.
Kevin Moore February 24, 2013 at 10:51 PM
When a Republican proposed a path to citizenship, she opposed it. Now, she is in favor of it. I really don't like either party. I dislike the whole partisanship, where both parties would sell out America to hurt the other party. FYI: I asked her to support the Immigration reform plan back in 2005. She declined. http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=d28ce584-0698-4b5a-84a1-2d3e3ebb8dcf “A pathway to citizenship is a critical component of any immigration reform proposal. As a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, I am encouraged by today’s progress and look forward to working closely with my colleagues on this issue in the weeks ahead.”
JustUs February 24, 2013 at 11:58 PM
Why have any laws at all? Afterall, bankrobbers just want a better life and are willing to do work most Americans don't want to do. Bankrobbers have families too that they need to feed. Why not have an amnesty program for all wanted bankrobbers? I hate to follow speed limits on the highways. Why should I have to do that if people can come across the border illegally and get rewarded for it? All speeding tickets should be amnestied immediately! We have families to feed and can't do it if the State takes are money away to pay fines! It's not fair!
Wire April 01, 2013 at 10:35 PM
Thank you our Federal government of both parties: Mexican cartels dispatch agents deep inside US - spread into non-border states the spider web. Mexican cartels dispatch agents deep inside US - spread into non-border states New York Post ‎- 9 hours ago CHICAGO — Mexican drug cartels whose operatives once rarely ventured beyond the US border are dispatching some of their most trusted This is the job of homeland security's Ms. Janet.
Henri Bridges April 01, 2013 at 10:53 PM
Let's adopt Mexico's Immigration Laws!!!
yoyo April 01, 2013 at 11:22 PM
When I get caught for speeding. Do the cops give me a reward such as a Target gift card for breaking the law? It's simple. Deport all illegal aliens. Want to come to America? Apply to come here legally. Yes, it takes forever, but why is the president rewarding the lawbreakers? Maybe he smells the vast number of potential future democratic voters. Welcome all legal immigrants and deport all illegal aliens.

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