Comprehensive Immigration Reform has been waiting possibly since 2001 and numerous attempts have been made including the failed Senate initiatives in 2007 and 2013. This clearly shows that the House of Representatives should be assigned responsibility to crack this hard-nut case of new legislation.
This will involve compromises among various political groups including Democrats, moderate Republicans and Tea party-affiliated Conservatives. Once this passes the House, it should be sent to Senate for an Yes/No vote and further to the President to be signed into law.
The following are some approaches that could make this reform possible.
- Legislative text based on House Republican principles announced by Speaker in Jan 2014
- Bring back the House Gang of Eight bill version that was agreed by a simple majority of Representatives in both parties
- Multiple piece-meal bills that are passed out of House Judiciary or Rules Committee that address Border Security, Employee Verification, Agriculture Guestworker, Low-skilled and High-skilled Temporary Workers, Interior Enforcement, Military Dreamers et cetera.
The trickiest part of Immigration reform is what to do with the 11 million undocumented immigrants, after the borders are reasonably secured, come out of the shadows, accept culpability in violating Immigration and other laws, pay fines and any back taxes based on the violations, pass English test and become active members of American society.
- Yellow Card : Legal status/Life sentence for millions of adult law-breakers that serves as a work permit and citizenship coming only after 20 years; Kids that entered before their 10th birthday could be fast-tracked with existing Green card and Naturalization processes.
- GATS (General Agreement for Trade in Services) Mode 4 status for qualified undocumented immigrants that doesn’t provide US citizenship, unless they return to their home countries and apply for immigration
- Family-based immigration(other than spouse and children) to be restricted only to well-known small business owners with at least 20 employees for 5 years
- Automatic Green cards to all successful PhD students from American Universities
- Automatic Green cards to legal temporary workers that have contributed Social Security, Medicare and Income taxes for 5 years, without Employer Sponsorship.
If some or all of the above measures are passed in the House Immigration reform bill, it will ensure fairness for all American citizens and long-term immigrant residents.
House Speaker, John Boehner often mentions, “I prefer a step-by-step approach to Immigration reform”. He seems to be convinced President Obama’s administrative actions follow his piece-meal philosophy and is enough for 113th Congress. Mid-term election results in Nov 2014 will show a clear path ahead for 114th season.