Migrant overhaul outcome uncertain
WASHINGTON — President Obama has staked his bid to rewrite the nation's immigration laws on providing a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally. Failing to do so, he told a Spanish-language television station, would mean 11 million people “permanently resigned to a lower status.”
But even if the Senate legislation favored by Obama became law tomorrow, more than one in four illegal immigrants would remain undocumented and outside the system, according to federal estimates.
That gap worries many reform proponents, who fear that the system would leave millions living in the shadows without legal protection. They would also be subject to harsher workplace requirements and enforcement measures included in the plan.
“We are very disappointed with that number because we really want to reform the system once and for all and make sure we legalize all people who are not committing crimes,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA of Maryland, an advocacy organization.
The bipartisan legislation that passed the Senate last month would set up a 13-year process toward citizenship for undocumented immigrants, including mandatory fines and other requirements. The Congressional Budget Office projected that 8 million immigrants would start the process of attempting to gain citizenship under the plan, but an additional 3.5 million would not qualify or would decide not to pursue it.
There is also no guarantee that those who begin the process will reach the end goal of becoming naturalized. The Social Security Administration estimates that 400,000 of those who gain provisional status would drop out within six years because they would not meet the financial requirements.
The question of how many immigrants attain citizenship could be crucial to the success of an overhaul. When President Ronald Reagan signed the 1986 immigration bill, about half of the nation's 5 million undocumented immigrants at the time gained legal status. The other half did not — becoming the base for the current undocumented population.
“The whole point of fixing the system is to do it in a way that improves our country by ending this system of second-class citizenry,” said Ana Avendaño, director of immigration at the AFL-CIO, which supports a path to citizenship to help ensure employers do not exploit unauthorized immigrants for lower wages. “We do not want to create arbitrary conditions that re-create the exact same problem we're trying to fix.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New York, New Jersey order 21-day quarantine of all in contact with Ebola virus
- U.S. rules out apology to Pyongyang in exchange for 2 imprisoned Americans
- Hatchet attack was terror, NYPD says
- Washington city takes stock of damage from rare tornado
- Warhol bodyguard sued over hidden artwork
- 2 California deputies slain, suspect captured
- Seattle area school homecoming ‘prince’ guns down classmates
- Philadelphia Mafia figure returned to prison for meeting friend
- Vehicle smashes Commandments on capitol grounds in Oklahoma City
- Test confirms remains are missing Virginia student’s
- 1686 shipwreck ‘like dinosaur’ being rebuilt for museum