The eight Senators negotiating comprehensive immigration reform are scheduled to release the legislative language on Tuesday, ahead of a scheduled hearing on Friday. In advance of the massive bill, the “Gang of 8″ have circulated a 17-page memo, detailing the broad outlines of their agreement. While border security is the first item addressed in the memo, the proposal makes clear that amnesty for the 11-12 million illegal immigrants already here would begin six months after passage of the bill.
The proposal would require the Department of Homeland Security to draft a plan to secure the border. The Secretary of DHS, currently Janet Napolitano, is required to submit that plan to Congress within six months of the bill becoming law. Immediately after this, illegal immigrants, who were here prior to 2012, can apply for “Resident Probationary Immigrant” status. Obtaining this status would allow them to legally live and work in US and travel abroad. At this time, however, they would not be eligible for federal welfare benefits.
After 10 years, RPIs can then apply for green cards and, eventually, full citizenship. Sources close to the negotiations have told Breitbart News that the 10 year window is intended to provide sufficient time for the border to become secure. Negotiators have defined “secure” as having a 90% interdiction rate in sensitive and vulnerable areas of the border, i.e. 90% of the people trying to illegally cross the border are stopped.
If this “goal” isn’t reached within five years, the proposal establishes a “Southern Border Commission,” comprising representatives of the four border state governors and individuals appointed by the President and Congressional leaders. This Commission will have six months to submit its own plan to secure the border. If they miss this deadline, then the responsibility reverts back to DHS.
After another five years, RPIs can then apply for a green card. There is no provision in the released memo that ties green card applications to the border having been secured. NBC Latino referred to the provision as a “border security goal” rather than a trigger. Presumably, DHS could submit a plan to secure the border and then do nothing.
Even if language were added to the proposal requiring a secure border prior to full legal status, nothing would prevent a future Congress from altering this. A future Congress could also remove the 10 year window and make eligible for citizenship anyone having “Probationary Resident Immigrant” status.
While this proposal will have vast implications across immigration policy, it does two very specific things. It requires DHS to submit a plan to secure the border. Then, it immediately gives legal status to 11-12 million illegal immigrants. Anything that happens after that is almost meaningless.
The memo outlining the basic provisions of the proposal is embedded below.
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