Obama administration to shake up US immigration
US immigration is set to undergo radical reform as President Obama prepares to deliver on his first term election promise of setting up ways to allow “illegal aliens” to become legal and to make the immigration process more orderly.
White House officials have said that any plan to grant legal status to illegal immigrants must also take a no-nonsense stance on law enforcement.
The administration has indicated that it wants to bring illegal immigrants into the legal system but only if they admit to breaking the law. It also says it wants to strengthen border enforcement and impose tougher measures on employers who hire illegal immigrants.
But immigrants and their supporters – who voted for President Obama – are against many of the proposed reforms. They also accuse President Obama of failing to live up to his campaign promises and of adding insult to injury by setting a new record for deporting illegal immigrants.
In May the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation that would bring about the biggest changes in U.S. immigration policy in a generation, setting up a spirited debate across the country.
By a vote of 13-5, the panel approved the nearly 900-page bill that would put 11 million illegal residents on a 13-year path to citizenship while further strengthening security along the south-western border with Mexico, long a sieve for illegal crossings.
The vote followed the committee’s decision to embrace a Republican move to ease restrictions on high-tech U.S companies that want to hire more skilled workers from countries like India and China.
Republicans in recent history have supported immigration reform that focuses on bringing skilled workers into the U.S. workforce rather than on reuniting families (a top priority for immigrant advocacy groups).
Republican leaders like John McCain, Republican of Arizona, say they will support only those proposals that include an expansion of guest worker programs.
The Republicans want to make it easier for highly skilled and educated immigrants to enter the country. They want an increase in the number of immigration agents dedicated to workplace enforcement.
Other proposals backed by the Republicans include: requirements that job applicants have a Social Security card containing biometric identification data; giving green cards to immigrants who get advanced degrees in science and technology from universities in the U.S; and, granting legal status only to those illegal immigrants who admit to breaking the law and who pay penalties and back taxes.