SENATE BILL SEEKS ALTERNATIVES TO ENFORCEMENT-ONLY AGENDA
In an effort to get the immigration discussion back on the table, on June 22, 2011, Senators Menendez (D-NJ), Harry Reid (D-NV), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) and John Kerry (D-MA), recently introduced a bill aimed at providing an alternate remedy to an enforcement only immigration agenda. The “Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) Act of 2011,” comprises strategies to address undocumented workers currently living in the U.S., by creating Lawful Prospective Immigration (LPI) status.
This bill’s enforcement measures include establishing border enforcement triggers that must be met before unauthorized immigrants can apply for permanent residency, requiring Department of Homeland Security to track the departure of noncitizens to make sure they do not overstay their visa, as well as mandates the E-verify program.
The bill also proposes improvements to control the future flow of legal immigrants by creating a standing commission which would study labor market and economic conditions to determine the number of employment-based visas needed. The bill also supports programs that can enhance immigrant integration, such as policies to aid immigrants learn English and grants for states that successfully integrate newcomers.Applicants for LPI status would need to submit biometric data, go through security checks and pay a fine. After 6 to 8 years of LPI status, they could then apply for Lawful Permanent Residency (LPR) and obtain a green card. Applicants for LPI status need to show they pay taxes, be subject to additional fines, must learn English and U.S. civics and be subjected to additional background checks. LPIs must also wait behind those who are already queuing for LPR status.