Details of the Senate Gang of Eight's legislation that's set to be introduced on Tuesday reveal that the bill would have a dramatic effect on the annual number of green cards given out each year. Various reports indicate the legal flow of legal immigrants would increase by more than 50% for the current level of 1.1 million new green cards issued each year. Numerous polls, however, show strong support for reducing current legal immigration flows or maintaining current levels.
For starters, the Gang of Eight will expedite the backlog of of legal immigrant applications. About 4 million individuals have applied for a U.S. green cards but most visa categories have an annual cap and there is also a cap to the number of individuals that can come from one country. Some reports have said that a family member of the U.S. citizen or green card holder who lives in the Philipines could wait up to 20 years before receiving their green card.
The Gang's plan, however, would remove the category and country caps to speed up the process. The Gang of Eight has said that illegal aliens that would be legalized through the legislation would have to move to the back of the line. Since they would be eligible for a path to citizenship in approximately 10 years, the Gang's plan would attempt to clear the entire backlog of 4 million people within 10 years.
The plan also calls for across-the-board increases in employment-based visas. The number of highly-skilled workers would likely double, along with increases in low-skilled and agriculture categories. The Gang's proposed guest worker program, for instance, could add an additional 200,000 temporary workers each year, but individuals close to the negotiations have said that temporary guest workers can get green cards after a set amount of time.
Each year, Gallup conducts a poll asking Americans their opinion on legal immigration levels. In 2012, 35% said immigration should be reduced and 42% said it should remain at current levels - 77% of Americans think immigration levels should remain the same or be reduced. For each year between 2007-2012, a majority or plurality of Americans thought immigration should be reduced.
For more information, see the Los Angeles Times.
Updated: Mon, Apr 15th 2013 @ 1:30pm EDT