Schumer, McCain Issue Summary of Immigration Bill

Posted April 16, 2013 at 6:19am

The bipartisan group of senators working on an immigration overhaul proposal has released a 17-page summary of its bill, which includes a provision that will exempt the children of unauthorized immigrants from a $500 penalty charged to those seeking to have their status legalized.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., two members of the group, plan to brief President Barack Obama on Tuesday, a source familiar with the meeting said. That indicates the group could unveil the full plan as soon as Tuesday, although some members had considered waiting until Wednesday in deference to the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Under the bill, unauthorized immigrants may apply to receive legalized status, known as Registered Provisional Immigrant Status.

In order to be eligible, an individual must have immigrated to the United States prior to Dec. 31, 2011, and maintained a continuous physical presence since then.

The individual must also pay a $500 fine, but those eligible for the DREAM Act — a bill that provides a path to citizenship to those brought illegally as children — would be exempt from the fine.

The individuals would also be assessed taxes, and adults would be required to pay the cost of processing their application.

Under the bill, spouses and children of people in provisional status can be petitioned for as derivatives of the principal applicant, but must be in the United States at the time.

The bill would allow those in provisional status to apply for a green card, or permanent residency, after 10 years.

People eligible for the DREAM Act and who are in the farm workers program can get their green cards in five years and DREAM Act kids will be eligible for citizenship immediately after they get their green cards.

$4.5 Billion for the Border

The bill also looks to strengthen border security, a key element to win over Republican support. The measure would authorize $4.5 billion for such programs.

About six months after the bill is enacted, the Homeland Security Secretary would submit a plan — “Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy” — for achieving and maintaining effective control in all high-risk border sectors along the Southern border.

The bill calls for $3 billion to provide a raft of equipment, including surveillance and detection capabilities developed or used by the Department of Defense, additional personnel for the southern border and unmanned aerial systems.

The measure would also call for appropriating $1.5 billion for a “Southern Border Fencing Strategy.” That would have to be submitted by the Homeland Security secretary within 180 days of enactment.

The path to legalization would be conditional on beginning the two strategies.

“No immigrant in undocumented status may be adjusted to ‘Registered Provision Immigrant’ (RPI) legal status until the Secretary has submitted to Congress the Notice of Commencement upon completion of each of the Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy and the Southern Border Fencing Strategy,” the summary said.

The path from provisional immigrant to legal resident is conditional on the substantial deployment of the border strategy and substantial completion of the fencing strategy.

It is also contingent on the use of an electronic exit system at air and sea ports of entry that operates by collecting machine-readable visa or passport information from air and vessel carriers.

Another condition includes implementing a mandatory employment verification system to be used by all employers to prevent unauthorized workers from obtaining employment in the United States.

Other aspects of the include streamlining the legal immigration to clear out the backlog. One example of how this would be done is that the bill reduces the preference categories based on family relationships from four to two. Those would cover unmarried adult children; married adult children who file before age 31; and unmarried adult children of lawful permanent residents.

The bill also creates temporary-worker programs for high-skilled and low-skilled workers and a program to allow undocumented farm workers to obtain legal status.