On Thursday, April 29, Senate Democrats announced the REPAIR (Real Enforcement with Practical Answers for Immigration Reform) proposal with the intention of making real progress on the immigration reform issue. The 26-page proposal is not yet a formal bill, but rather a “framework of concrete bipartisan ideas.”
The proposal outlines plans in the following areas:
1. Border Enforcement:
Achieving operational control of America’s borders to prevent future illegal immigration.
2. Interior Enforcement:
Detection, apprehension and removal of unlawfully present persons in the United States.
3. Biometric Identification and Employment Verification:
Ending illegal employment through biometric employment verification.
4. High-skilled Immigration, Immigration of Lower-skilled Workers, Promoting Family Immigration:
Reforming America’s legal immigration system to maximize American economic prosperity.
5. Registration and Legalization Plan:
Mandatory registration, acceptance of responsibility and administration of penalties to unauthorized aliens presently in the United States.
Reforms to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in America’s immigration system.
There are many steps outlined in the proposal to limit future illegal immigration to the U.S., and to make it harder for undocumented people to stay and work in the U.S. There are also plans to make it easier for students with U.S. degrees in math, engineering and science to attain permanent residence in the U.S., and to make it harder for U.S. employers to hire non-U.S. citizens and residents when there are American workers available.
HOWEVER, for undocumented aliens currently living in the U.S. (approximately 10.8 million) who want to get legal status, the most important area is number 5, listed above: Registration and Legalization Plan.
This is the plan through which currently undocumented aliens with clean criminal records will be able to achieve legal status in the U.S. It involves 2 phases.
The first phase is the mandatory registration. All undocumented people will be required to step forward and declare their presence in the U.S. The registration process will include identity, criminal background and security screening, fingerprinting, and the payment of applicable fees. Those who have been lawful, have a clean record and do not threaten national security with terrorism will be granted a special status, called LPI: Lawful Prospective Immigrant. LPIs will be able to work in the U.S. and travel outside of the U.S. They will be able to legally bring their spouses and minor children to the U.S.
It is extremely important to note that if you enter the country illegally after the bill is passed, you are not eligible to become an LPI. This means that if you are already in the U.S. illegally, you must not leave the country after this bill is passed and before you get LPI status. If you do leave during this time, when you come back, you will no longer be eligible for the special status.
If during the registration period, it is discovered that you have a criminal record (have been convicted of any felony offense under Federal or State law [all offenses punishable with a term of imprisonment greater than one year, even if you had actually served less than one year following conviction], or three or more cases of misdemeanors), you will be deported. If you do not come forward to register, you will remain an undocumented alien, and you will still be subject to arrest and deportation.
The second phase of the plan begins eight years after the first phase. LPIs will then be able to apply for Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status. To be eligible for this status, LPIs will have to show that they have basic citizenship skills, good English language skills, and continuous residence in the United States. There will be extra background and security checks; all taxes, fees and civil penalties will have to be paid; and LPIs will have to register for the selective service.
If you wish to consult with an immigration attorney please call 1-800-422-7666.