A bipartisan group of US lawmakers is set to unveil this week a major immigration reform proposal that could, if passed, provide a path to citizenship for millions who have been staying there illegally.
A press conference announcing the plan was delayed following the explosions in Boston, but a document describing the plan was sent to AFP.
Immigration reform has been a key focus of President Barack Obama’s second term, while Republicans smarting from their 2012 election defeat have sought to broaden their outreach to minorities, particularly the Hispanic community.
This new bipartisan proposal would help bring out of the shadows around 11.5 million people — a majority of whom are Mexican — who live and work in the US without legal papers.
Lawmakers want to set a benchmark of halting 90% of the flow of people crossing the border illegally in “high risk sectors.”
A $4.5 billion budget would be dedicated to building “double-layer fencing” in some spots and for new surveillance technology, including drones.
Employers would be required to verify, using a new federal database, the legal status of all their workers.
And to be eligible for amnesty, potential immigrants would need: — to have arrived, and lived continuously, in the US since December 31, 2011— to pay a fine of at least $500 and any past due taxes — to have a clean criminal record.
After 10 years, these immigrants could file for a green card, or permanent residency.
Three years after that, they could request to become naturalized.
The other major component of the reform aims to address the shortage of skilled workers in certain professions.