Gang of Eight's new pathways to citizenship
The hotly anticipated bill to overhaul our nation's immigration system is expected to be presented Tuesday by a bipartisan group of senators. At stake are the lives of at least 11 million — that’s the number of people living here without proper immigration documents.
From articles, interviews and tweets, we've pieced together what the proposal has in mind for different types of immigrant populations — long-term illegal residents, farm workers and felons, to name a few.
Long term residents — represented here by a hamburger, the most American thing we can think of — living in the United States anytime before Jan. 1, 2012, would be eligible to apply for a green card 10 years after receiving registered provisional status.
During those 10 years, the government would be expected to clear out the monstrous backlog of waiting visa applications keeping hundreds of thousands of families apart.
Long term residents would have to pay a $1,000 fine and back taxes. If they learn English and stay out of trouble — no felonies and no more than two misdemeanors — they will be able to apply for permanent residency. After getting their green cards, they would have to wait another three years before applying for citizenship.
The Path For High Skilled Workers
High skilled workers are individuals with a specialized skill sets like engineers, professors or computer programmers. They generally have college degrees.
The new proposal would grant 220,000 new green cards each year for these individuals.
And the number of work visas available would double from 65,000 to 110,000, with the possibility of granting up to 180,000 visas each year in the future.
The Path For Low Skilled Workers
There would be an established visa program for 20,000 foreigners in low-skilled jobs starting in 2015. The numbers of these low-skilled visas would increase to 75,000 in 2019.
But only 15,000 visas would be granted to immigrant construction workers each year.
It is still unclear how many green cards would be distributed to low skilled workers, and how the number would be determined. And that might depend on a provision requiring the border to be secured before low skill workers can apply to become permanent residents.
The Path For DREAMers
DREAMers are immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents at a young age without proper documentation. Many of them currently qualify for the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
To qualify, a person must be 31 years old as of June 15, 2012. In the Gang of Eight's new proposal, DREAMers would have an accelerated pathway to citizenship.
DREAMers would be able obtain green cards in five years and citizenship immediately thereafter.
The Path For Agricultural Workers
Current farm workers in the country without documentation would be given an accelerated path to citizenship under the new proposal, because their intensive labor is considered vital to the economy and the nation's food source.
If they agree to work for another five to seven years, their accelerated path would be similar to that of the DREAMers.
Visas for agricultural workers would be limited to 337,000 over three years. And wages would be based on a survey of labor market data for various farming jobs.
The Path For Immigrants With Serious Criminal Records
Immigrants living here with a felony or three misdemeanors on their record would be given no path to citizenship under this bill.
This story was originally published on Fronteras: The Changing American Desk.