Immigration Reform Plans Unveiled (January 2013)
Federal Immigration Reform Outlines
On Jan. 28, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, referred to as the “gang of eight,” unveiled a four-page “framework” for comprehensive immigration reform legislation, to be introduced in late-March.
The framework’s four pillars include: creating a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants, reforming legal immigration, developing an effective employment verification system, and improving the process for admitting future workers. The outline draws from legislation developed and passed in the Senate during President George W. Bush’s second term. It does not mention assistance to state and local governments to cover costs for immigrants for education, health, social and other services, which were included in 2007. Federal benefits are denied to immigrants in the framework. The “gang of eight” senators includes: Michael Bennet (D-Colo), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
On Jan. 29, President Obama presented his immigration reform proposal in Las Vegas. The proposal has four parts: criminal enforcement, employment enforcement, a path to earned citizenship for unauthorized immigrants, and a streamlined system for legal immigration of families, workers, and employers. Enforcement provisions include cracking down on transnational crime, passport fraud and human smuggling. Employment provisions include an employment verification system, combating identity theft, and the creation of new visas for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates and entrepreneurs. The path to legalization includes provisional status, background checks, fees and penalties, and a requirement to learn English and civics. The proposal also promotes efforts to integrate immigrants into their new American communities linguistically, civically, and economically, but does not mention assistance to state and local governments to cover the costs for these efforts.
NCSL is actively engaging Congress and the White House in immigration policy discussions to ensure state legislator concerns are addressed as draft bill language is developed and introduced.