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President Obama’s Proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

  • By: Immigration Attorney Osas Iyamu
  • Published: February 20, 2013

According to the fact Sheet released by the white house on January 29th, 2013 titled “Fixing our Broken Immigration System so everyone plays by the Rules “AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 13012946, President Obama acknowledged that America’s immigration system is broken, and it is time to fix it in a way that requires responsibility and accountability from everyone.

Below is a summary of the key principles’ President Obama proposed and believes should be included & covered in a common sense immigration reform bill/legislation:

Continuing to Strengthen Border Security

According to the President proposal, the immigration bill/legislation will;

  1. Strengthen border security and Improve infrastructures at ports of entry, increase investment in foreign visitor processing, and use of technologies that help to secure the land and maritime borders of the United States.
  2. Combat transnational crime by creating new criminal penalties dedicated to combating criminal organizations that traffic in drugs, weapons, money, and human smuggling. It should expand the scope of current law to allow forfeiture of these organizations’ criminal tools and profits.
  3. Improve partnerships with border communities and law enforcement by establishing border community liaisons along the Southern and Northern borders to improve communication and collaboration with border communities, boost funding to tribal government partners to reduce illegal activity on tribal lands, and improve immigration officers training on civil rights and civil liberties.
  4. Crackdown on criminal networks engaging in passport and visa fraud and human smuggling by creating tough criminal penalties for trafficking in passports and immigration documents and schemes to defraud, including notario fraud.
  5. Deport Criminals by expanding smart enforcement efforts that target convicted criminals in federal or state correctional facilities, allowing for their removal from the United States at the end of their sentences. At the same time, protect those with a credible fear of returning to their home countries.
  6. Create an administrative removal process for non-Immigrants who overstay their visas and have been determined to be threats to national security and public safety.
  7. Improve the US immigration courts system by increasing the number of immigration judges and their staff, training of court personnel, improve access to legal information for immigrants, and improve overall court efficiency. Expand alternatives to immigration detention and reduce overall detention costs. Provide greater protections for those least able to represent themselves.

Cracking Down on Employers Who Hire Undocumented Workers

President Obama’s immigration reform proposal is designed to stop unfair hiring practice and hold employers accountable & accordingly; the immigration reform bill will;

  1. Provide tools for employers to ensure a legal workforce by using federal government databases to verify that the people they hire are eligible to work in the United States.
  2. Significantly increase the penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers to undermine the workplace standards that protect all workers.
  3. Establish new penalties for committing fraud and identity theft.
  4. Require that mandatory electronic employment verification would be phased in over five years with exemptions for certain small businesses.
  5. Ensure the privacy and confidentiality of all workers’ personal information and procedural protections in the Mandatory Employment Verification System.
  6. Combat fraud and identity theft by mandating a fraud‐resistant, tamper‐resistant Social Security card and requires workers to use fraud‐and tamper‐resistant documents to prove authorization to work in the United States.
  7. Protect workers against retaliation for exercising their labor rights.
  8. Create a “labor law enforcement fund” to help ensure that industries that employ significant numbers of immigrant workers comply with labor laws.

Pathway to Earned Citizenship

According to the president, it is not practical to deport 11 million undocumented immigrant living within the US. The President proposed immigration reform will:

  1. Create a provisional legal status which will require undocumented immigrants to come forward and register, submit to criminal background and national security checks then pay fees and penalties before they will be eligible for a provisional legal status.
  2. Ensure that agricultural workers and those who entered the United States as children would be eligible for provisional legal status.
  3. Require that undocumented immigrants wait until the existing legal immigration backlogs are cleared before getting in line to apply for lawful permanent residency (i.e. a “green card”), and ultimately, United States citizenship.
  4. Restrict undocumented Immigrants with provisional legal status from being eligible for welfare or other federal benefits, including subsidies or tax credits under the new health care law.
  5. Require undocumented immigrants with provisional status who are applying for green cards to pay their taxes, pass additional criminal background and national security checks, register for Selective Service (where applicable), then pay additional fees and penalties, learn English and U.S. history.
  6. Require undocumented immigrants who obtain provisional status and thereafter green card to become eligible for Citizenship five years after receiving a green card.
  7. Provide that Children brought into the US illegally through no fault of their own by their parents will be eligible for earned citizenship by going to college or serving honorably in the Armed Forces for at least two years, and given an expedited opportunity to earn their citizenship.
  8. Create administrative and judicial review for undocumented immigrants whose provisional lawful status has been revoked or denied, or whose application for adjustment of status (green card) has been denied. Such applicants will have the opportunity to seek administrative and judicial review of those decisions.
  9. Establish fraud prevention programs that will provide training for adjudicators, allow regular audits of applications to identify patterns of fraud and abuse, and incorporate other proven fraud prevention measures.

Streamlining Legal Immigration

President Obama’s proposal will:

  1. Reunify families in a timely and humane manner.
  2. Eliminate existing backlogs in the family-sponsored immigration system by recapturing unused visas and temporarily increasing annual visa numbers.
  3. Raise existing annual country caps from 7 percent to 15 percent for the family-sponsored immigration system.
  4. Grant same-sex couples immigration benefits by treating same-sex families as families & giving U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa based on a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner.
  5. Revise current unlawful presence bars and provide broader discretion to waive bars in cases of hardship.
  6. Eliminate the backlog for employment-sponsored immigration by eliminating annual country caps and adding additional visas to the system.
  7. Attract the best minds to America by Creating a “startup visa” for job-creating entrepreneurs who attract financing from U.S. investors or revenue from U.S. customers to start and grow their businesses.
  8. Encourage foreign graduate students educated in the United States to stay and contribute to the US economy by “stapling” a green card to the diplomas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) PhD and Master’s Degree graduates from qualified U.S. universities who have found employment in the United States.
  9. Require employers to pay a fee that will support education and training to grow the next generation of American workers in STEM careers.
  10. Enhance travel and tourism by simplifying visa and foreign visitor processing while adding new measures to combat fraud and national security threats. It will allow greater flexibility to designate countries for participation in the Visa Waiver Program, and permits the Department of State to waive visa interview requirements for certain very low-risk visa applicants.
  11. Create a new visa category for employees of federal national-security science and technology laboratories for a limited number of highly-skilled and specialized immigrants to work in federal science and technology laboratories on critical national-security needs after being in the United States for two years and passing rigorous national security and criminal background checks.
  12. Expand opportunities for investor visas and U.S. economic development by permanently authorizing immigrant visa opportunities for regional center (pooled investment) programs; provide incentives for visa requestors to invest in programs that support national priorities, including economic development in rural and economically depressed regions.
  13. Simplify the immigration law to better protect vulnerable immigrants, including those who are victims of crime and domestic violence.
  14. Protect those fleeing persecutions by eliminating the existing limitations that prevent qualified individuals from applying for asylum.
  15. Encourage integration linguistically, civically, and economically.

White house Draft of Immigration Bill

The President’s version of a sensible immigration reform legislation is more expansive and inclusive. It is similar to the senator’s version in some ways but fundamentally different in a number of ways. Kindly refer to my previous blog regarding the Senator’s version of the proposed Immigration Reform bill for more details.

Based on the above blueprint, the white house recently drafted its version of a comprehensive immigration reform legislation as a backup plan should congress fail to act.

Over the weekend three separate section of the draft White House immigration bill were released by the Miami Herald. The president Immigration draft bill provides a pathway to lawful permanent resident status within eight years for undocumented Immigrants. The sections released covered –  legalization, border security, interior enforcement, and work site enforcement. This move by the white house has been criticized by members of Congress. Details of the immigration draft will be discussed in my next post.


Osas Iyamu

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(800) 974-6480
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