Rep. Gutierrez Introduces Bill for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Help for Illegal Aliens

With a light—albeit a dim one—at the end of the healthcare reform tunnel, the Obama Administration and its allies in Congress have begun setting the stage for comprehensive immigration reform in 2010. Mounting support in Congress, a groundswell of immigrant advocates, and a new bill introduced Wednesday all bode well for major reform next year.

On December 10, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee and expressed the Administration’s desire to move forward on reform “early next year.” Napolitano has been projecting the White House message about three crucial elements for reform:
(1) “commitment to serious and effective immigration enforcement;
(2) “improved legal flows for families and workers; and
(3) “a firm but fair way to deal with those who are already here.”

In the Senate, allies of reform include Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). These and other senators recognize that enforcement is not enough when the immigration system itself is so broken, and they have added their voices to the many decrying a system rife with detainee abuse and even death.

Members of the House of Representatives have been especially active, both huddling with grassroots groups and now crafting legislation. On December 16, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (also known as CIR ASAP). With some 90 sponsors and support from the Congressional Hispanic, Black, Asian Pacific American, and Progressive Caucuses, the bill sets the stage for reform efforts in the coming year.

***NOTE: The following provides information about a bill before Congress to reform the current immigration system. At this time there is no guarantee that this bill or any similar bill will become law. Its passage depends on the political climate and the efforts of immigrant rights activists.

This information does not constitute legal advice. If you are interested in legal consultation with an experienced immigration attorney, please contact our firm in Reno or Las Vegas.***

HIGHLIGHTS

Dedication to “Smart” Border Enforcement
— charges DHS to craft a new national strategy for border security and port of entry processing
— provides additional staff and resources for an improved port of entry program
— works with border communities to help share burden of effective enforcement
— combines a mandated inventory of border security forces with a commitment to meeting their needs

Prioritizes Community Safety
— creates a Southern Border Security Task Force to coordinate between local and federal police to ensure the safety of U.S. residents from border crimes
— suspends Operation Streamline pending a review; critics say the program diverts resources from protecting communities in order to criminally prosecute all undocumented border crossers

Emphasizes Dignity and Safety for Detainees
— allocates resources to preventing human smuggling and migrant deaths
— establishes a reporting process and review commission for analyzing detainee treatment
— prevents unnecessary detention and family separation
— repeals the controversial 287(g) program
— provides translation and counsel to immigrants subject to ICE enforcement

Creates Incentives for Authorized Work
— creates a new work authorization verification program
— places heavy penalties on employers who do not comply
— prevents discrimination against authorized workers
— allows eligible immigrants to get work authorization while waiting for a visa

Addresses Visa Backlogs and Reunites Families
— permits use of unused visas from past years to reduce backlog
— allows spouses and children of LPRs to immigrate as immediate relatives
— removes the “widow penalty” from petitions and waivers
— gives judges and consular officers greater discretionary authority to allow long-time immigrants to return to/remain in the United States

Prevents Future Illegal Immigration and Allows Legalization
— creates a special class of lottery visa for immigrants who lack other means to immigrate legally
— creates a conditional non-immigrant visa for immigrants who are currently here illegally, have clean criminal records, and have contributed to their communities through work, school, volunteering, etc
— permits conditional non-immigrants to become LPRs after six years
— gives relief to children and unauthorized farm workers

Uses Immigration to Strengthen U.S. Economy
— allocates resources toward job training
— attracts investors and entrepreneurs
— uses fines, fees, and other resources for state-based job training

One Response to “Rep. Gutierrez Introduces Bill for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Help for Illegal Aliens”

  1. […] that attract workers here are not changed. Schumer’s proposal, like Luis Gutierrez’s CIR ASAP bill in the House of Representatives, provides a path toward residency for the nation’s […]

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