Understand and get ready for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (2)

The
White House has released a fact sheet for its version of Comprehensive
Immigration Reform.
  The following is a
summary of the plan:
The
White House and the President recognize that reforming our broken immigration
system requires responsibility from the 11 million people living in the shadows
and from the employers who hire illegal workers.  The new plan must also guarantee that
everyone is playing by the same rules.  The
four key principles the President Obama’s plan include:


Continuing to
Strengthen Border Security

Though
the number of Border Patrol agents has been doubled since 2004, the President’s
new proposal will further strengthen and improve infrastructure at ports of
entry, and continues supporting use of technologies to secure land and maritime
borders. It will create new criminal penalties to combat transnational criminal
organizations in drugs, weapons and money trafficking, and human smuggling across
the borders. It also includes tough criminal penalties for trafficking in
passports and immigration documents and schemes to defraud. The U.S. Department
of Homeland Security (DHS) will establish border community liaisons along the
Southern and Northern borders to improve communication and collaboration with
border communities.


Cracking Down on Employers
Hiring Undocumented Workers

Our
businesses should only employ people legally authorized to work in the United
States. The President’s proposal is to stop the practice of knowingly employing
undocumented workers and hold those companies accountable. The proposal
provides tools for employers to ensure a legal workforce by using federal
government databases to verify the eligibility of their employees to work in
the United States. Penalties for hiring undocumented workers are significantly
increased. The proposal also mandates a fraud
resistant, tamperresistant Social Security
card to prove authorization to work in the United States. The proposal will
also protect workers against retaliation for exercising their labor rights by
creating a “labor law enforcement fund” to ensure that industries comply with
labor laws.


Earned Citizenship

Since it is not practical to deport 11 million undocumented
immigrants living within our borders, the President’s proposal provides
undocumented immigrants a legal way to earn citizenship. This proposal requires
undocumented immigrants must come forward and register, submit biometric data,
pass criminal background and national security checks, and pay fees and
penalties before they will be eligible for a provisional legal status.
Individuals must wait until the existing legal immigration backlogs are cleared
before getting in line to apply for lawful permanent residency (i.e. a “green
card”), and ultimately United States citizenship. Consistent with current law,
people with provisional legal status will not be eligible for welfare or other federal
benefits. As under current law, five years after receiving a green card,
individuals will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship like every other
legal permanent resident. An individual whose provisional lawful status has
been revoked or denied, or whose application for adjustment has been denied,
will have the opportunity to seek administrative and judicial review of those
decisions.


Streamlining Legal
Immigration

The
proposal seeks to eliminate existing backlogs in the family-sponsored
immigration system by recapturing unused visas and temporarily increasing
annual visa numbers. It also raises existing annual country caps from 7 percent
to 15 percent for the family-sponsored immigration system.  The proposal also eliminates the backlog for
employment-sponsored immigration by eliminating annual country caps and adding
additional visas to the system.  (These
changes, if implemented, will significantly speed up the waiting time of
immigrant petitions for countries such as China, India, Philippines and
Mexico.)  The proposal encourages foreign
graduate students educated in the United States to stay here and contribute to
our economy by making it easier for advanced degree holders in science,
technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from qualified U.S. universities
to obtain a green card.  Similarly, the
proposal will also provide visas to foreign entrepreneurs who plan on starting businesses
here and hiring U.S. workers.  

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