Monday, February 18, 2013

Eight year path to green cards for illegals in White House proposal

Plan leaked to USA Today calls for ‘lawful prospective immigrant visa’

 Niall O’Dowd, - Irish Central
Undocumented immigrants will be able to receive a green card after eight years of provisional status, according to the leaked White House document on President Obama’s immigration bill. There are an estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish in the U.S. The document was leaked to USA Today.
  • The new visa status would be called a “lawful prospective immigrant visa” which would be granted and would allow the person to work in the country and make brief visits out of the country until they gained a regular green card after eight years.
  • The Obama bill version leaked to USA Today does not have a cut off date by which the undocumented immigrant had to be in the country, a major factor for more recent Irish immigrants hoping to take advantage of the proposed bill.
  • Undocumented immigrants must come forward and register, submit biometric data, pass criminal background and national security checks, and pay taxes and penalties before they will be eligible for a provisional legal status. Agricultural workers and those who entered the United States as children would be eligible for the same program.
  • Individuals must 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. Consistent with current law, people with provisional legal status will not be eligible for welfare or other federal benefits, including subsidies or tax credits under the new health care law.
  • Those applying for green cards must pay their taxes, pass additional criminal background and national security checks, register for Selective Service (where applicable), pay additional fees and penalties, and learn English and U.S. civics. As under current law, five years after receiving a green card, individuals will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship like every other legal permanent resident.
  • Earned citizenship for DREAMers. Children brought here 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, these children should be given an expedited opportunity to earn their citizenship. The President’s proposal brings these undocumented immigrants out of the shadows.
  • Create administrative and judicial review. An individual whose provisional lawful status has been revoked or denied, or whose application for adjustment has been denied, will have the opportunity to seek administrative and judicial review of those decisions.
  • Keep Families Together. The proposal seeks to eliminate existing backlogs in the family-sponsored immigration system by recapturing unused visas and temporarily increasing annual visa numbers. The proposal also raises existing annual country caps from 7 percent to 15 percent for the family-sponsored immigration system. It also treats same-sex families as families by giving U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner. The proposal also revises current unlawful presence bars and provides broader discretion to waive bars in cases of hardship.
It is very refreshing to see that this plan recognizes that it makes a great deal of sense to address the plight of the undocumented residents of this country before trying to pass legislation that would provide for the issuance of 10,500 annual temporary work permits that make no provisions for conversion to permanent residency status. Even though there appears to be a certain degree of bipartisan support in Congress for the concept of comprehensive immigration reform, there remains a great deal of work to be done before a final bill that addresses both the problems of the undocumented and the needs of this great nation can be written into law. Let’s hope and pray that Congress can keep their eye on this very long overdue and much needed goal and bring it to a mutually satisfactory and final conclusion.
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America

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