IMMIGRATION REFORM: IS THIS A NEW FALSE PROMISE?
A few weeks ago, Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Filemon Vela introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity (CIR ASAP) Act of 2013, a bill closely mirroring the 2009 version introduced by Rep. Solomon Ortiz. However, many republicans have voiced their objections to this new bill. Is Congress going to fail us? Again? Is this a false promise? To many of us there is HOPE!!!
The Senate did its part and approved a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill (S. 744). We are pushing Congress to do the same.
But what is included in the new bill. Does CIR ASAP differ from S. 744 of the Senate?
S. 744: Requires the Department of Homeland Security to add at least 19,200 Border Patrol agents and mandates a total of 700 miles of fencing. Now, we have a little more than 20,000 agents.
CIR ASAP: Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop and submit to Congress a National Strategy for Border Security. Increase the number of Customs and Border Protection Officers by not fewer than 5,000 and does not require additional fencing.
S.744: Immigrants who entered the United States before December 31, 2011 and have been physically present in the U.S. since that time will be eligible to apply for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status, leaving out millions of people.
CIR ASAP: Immigrants who can establish presence in the U.S. on the day of introduction will be eligible for conditional immigrant visa.
*Both paths require the applicant to pass a background check, pay any assessed tax liability, pay appropriate fees and a fine, and not to have been convicted of serious criminal activity.
Pathway to Citizenship
S. 744: RPI status would be valid for six years and after 10 years, and only if all family and employment backlogs are cleared and the border security triggers are met, these individuals will be able to apply for legal permanent residency (LPR). After 3 years of being a resident, they may apply for naturalization, making the total path to citizenship a 13-year wait.
CIR ASAP: Those who qualify would receive a conditional nonimmigrant visa which is valid for six years and will be able to naturalize under current law (up to 5 years), making the total path to citizenship about an 11-year wait.
S. 744: Allows Homeland Security officials to access all federal lands in order to capture drug traffickers, human smugglers, and other unlawful actors attempting to cross through federally protected lands. Waives important environmental laws and regulations within 100 miles of the U.S. border.
CIR ASAP: Maintains current laws and prioritizes mitigating adverse impacts to federal, tribal, state, local and private lands, waters, wildlife and habitats by promoting cross-agency development of comprehensive monitoring and mitigation of ecological and environmental impacts of border security infrastructure and activity.
Port of Entry Infrastructure
S. 744: Provides for the establishment of a grant program to construct transportation and infrastructure improvements at southern and northern border ports of entry to facilitate safe, secure, and efficient cross-border movement of people, vehicles, and cargo. Adds 3,500 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers.
CIR ASAP: Appropriates $1,000,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2018 to make improvements to existing ports of entry in the United States to improve border security and for other purposes. Increase Agriculture Specialists by 1, 200 and Border Security Support Personnel at the port of entry by 350.
You should remember that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about a potential comprehensive immigration reform.
I represent individuals in immigration cases. If you have any questions or concerns about an immigration case or immigration petition, you can call me at (315) 422-5673, send me a fax at (315) 466-5673, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Law Office of Jose Perez is located at 120 East Washington Street, Suite 925, Syracuse, New York 13202. Please look for my next article in the November edition.