Late Monday evening leaks of the immigration reform proposal details from the bipartisan Senate “Gang of Eight” suggest that the legislation may start legalizing America’s at least 11 million illegal aliens before securing the border and enforcing immigration laws inside the country.
“Millions of immigrants living illegally in the United States could earn a chance at citizenship under a sweeping Senate proposal to be released Tuesday that would represent the most ambitious overhaul of the nation’s immigration system in three decades,” the Washington Post‘s David Nakamura wrote.
Nakamura added later in the piece that the bill “would allow most undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country before Dec. 31, 2011, to immediately gain ‘registered provisional’ status after paying a $500 fine and back taxes, provided they have not committed a felony or three misdemeanors.”
Nakamura noted that illegal immigrants could apply for “permanent resident status” after 10 years and after paying more fees, and could apply for U.S. citizenship three years later–a path to citizenship that would take about 13 years total at a minimum, a path Nakamura said some Senate staffers say “could take longer in some cases.”
“The path would be easier for ‘Dreamers’–people brought to the country illegally by their parents at a young age–who would be able to apply for a green card in five years and citizenship immediately thereafter,” Nakamura added. “Foreign farmworkers would have a similar path to help patch a shortage of such workers in the country.”
According to Nakamura, the plan’s border security and law enforcement intitiatives are as follows:
The senators say the bill will require the government to implement strict new border-control measures–including up to $7 billion in new surveillance drones, fencing, border guards and workplace tracking systems–before the undocumented immigrants are granted green cards. The bill stipulates that the government must surveil 100 percent of the border and apprehend 90 percent of the people trying to enter illegally in high-risk sectors.
Politico’s story on the same plan leaks confirmed these details.
On ABC’s This Week, Gang of Eight member Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) admitted the plan will not fully secure the border before starting the legalization of illegal immigrants. When guest host Jonathan Karl asked Rubio to respond to the question, posed by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), as to whether this bill was enforcement first or legalization first, Rubio admitted the bill is legalization first.
A transcript of that specific exchange:
Karl: The bottom is, with legalization being in just six months, the answer is that this is legalization first, isn’t it?
Rubio: Well. Yeah. But, it’s important to understand that … that was my original position. The problem is, what do you in the meantime. When you’re dealing with all these enforcement mechanisms, what do you do with the millions of people who are undocumented? Is it a big game of cat and mouse where if we catch you, you have to leave but if we don’t catch you, in the future you get to apply?
Conservatives, including Sessions, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and a surging chorus in the House oppose legalizing the at least 11 million illegal immigrants before securing the border and enforcing America’s immigration laws throughout the country.