The Gang of Eight released a 17-page summary today of their "comprehensive immigration reform" bill, detailing a path to citizenship for most of the nation's 11-18 million illegal aliens and massive increases in legal immigration. The bill could result in an additional 15 million green cards being issued in the first 10 years above and beyond the 1.1 million green cards that are currently issued each year. That would result in more than a 150% increase in legal immigration over the first decade after the bill's passage.
Illegal aliens currently living in the United States would be eligible for legalization and Registered Provisional Immigration Status (RPI) if they meet certain requirements. The amnesty process begins once the Department of Homeland Security submits a plan to Congress and claims to commence that plan to secure the Southern Border. The bill authorizes $3 billion to DHS for securing the border and an additional $1.5 billion for a border fence. DHS has 180 days from the bill's passage to submit its plan. Nothing in the outline indicates that Congress has to actually approve the plan submitted by DHS.
Illegal aliens that receive RPI status will receive a work permit and be allowed to travel to and from the United States. To be eligible, illegal aliens will have to demonstrate that they entered the country before December 31, 2011 and have been physically present since then. They'll also have to pay a $500 fine and go through a criminal background check. Illegal aliens who have committed a felony or 3 or more misdemeanors will be ineligible. Spouses and children of the illegal alien may also receive RPI status if they're in the country at the time of application. The plan also allows illegal aliens that were deported for non-criminal reasons, but came to the country illegally prior to December 31, 2011 to apply. Illegal aliens in removal proceedings that satisfy all the other requirements will also be permitted to apply.
The outline also details significant changes to the legal immigration process that will likely result in millions of additional green cards over the first 10 years. The bill will clear the current backlog of foreign nationals that have been approved for a green card but are years away from receiving them because of annual limits or per-country caps. The goal is to issue green cards to the 4.5 million individuals waiting in line within the first 10 years, so the Gang of Eight can claim that those in the "legal" line will get their green cards before the illegal aliens become eligible.
The bill will also create a new merit-based green cards category where temporary visa holders can earn points based on certain criteria. Visa holders with the most amount of points will receive a green card. The plan calls for up to 250,000 new green cards each year through the merit-based program.
Illegal aliens that are adjusted to RPI status will be allowed to apply for a green card through the merit-based program after 10 years if certain "triggers" are met, however, illegal aliens that qualify for the DREAM Act can receive instant citizenship after 5 years and illegal aliens that work a required number of hours in agriculture can receive a green card in 5 years.
Green cards for the rest of the illegal-alien population will be granted after 10 years if all employers use E-Verify, DHS has completed the entry/exit system at sea and air ports (land ports are excluded), and if DHS is apprehending 90% of illegal border crossers in high risk border sectors.
The bill also creates a new temporary, low-skilled guest-worker program, expands the annual number of H-1B visas issued to high-skilled immigrants, and creates a new guest-worker program for farmers. All temporary visa holders will be eligible for green cards through the new merit-based green card category.
The bill also lifts the annual green card caps on extraordinary workers, multinational executives, and doctoral degree holders in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Updated: Wed, Apr 17th 2013 @ 11:20am EDT