Wednesday, March 21, 2007

New immigration proposal in the House

Looks like we’ll get our first immigration proposal of the year from the House tomorrow. It is bipartisan--Reps. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Like the past Senate bill (S. 1033, aka McCain-Kennedy) a guest worker/temporary worker angle, but with a twist. Unlike McCain-Kennedy, after six years they could apply for legal permanent residence, and so the bill refers to them as “new workers.” It would also allow people here illegally a path toward permanent legal residence after a complicated series of stipulations:

Illegal immigrants would be eligible for legalization if they arrived in the U.S. before June 1, 2006. They would have to pay a $2,000 fine and back taxes, and pass background and security checks. If after six years they have learned English and civics, kept a clean record, and the head of household has left and reentered the U.S. legally, they could become legal permanent residents, a step toward citizenship.

Unlike a Senate bill passed last year, those leaving the U.S. would not have to go to their home countries, but could travel to Canada or Mexico. Exceptions to the requirement would be made for children, the elderly, single heads of households, business owners and those in military service.

They figure they need to get something passed by July, or the presidential race will wreck any chance at reform. The odds are not good, but let’s see what happens.


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