Millions of people who are currently living in the shadows after illegally immigrating to the United States could begin a path to finally getting legal status in the United States. That is, if a new bipartisan effort at immigration reform is accepted.
A compromise plan was announced Monday by a group of eight U.S. senators and immediately generated headlines for its forgiveness of undocumented workers who do not have criminal records and the new crackdowns that would be implemented, CNN Politics reported. This was followed up Tuesday with a speech in Las Vegas by President Barack Obama on the same issue.
The main difference appears to be in the focus. While both plans eventually clear a way to citizenship for the reported 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, the president's intent is more on fast-tracking that part of the plan. The senators' plan puts a stronger focus on first securing the border. The senators, in their proposal, said they aim "to secure the border, modernize and streamline our current legal immigration system, while creating a tough but fair legalization process for individuals who are currently here."
Critics, however, are concerned by the failure to address the enormous backlog in legal family-unity immigration. Obama, however, touched on that, although briefly, in his speech.
"We’ve got to bring our legal immigration system into the 21st century because it no longer reflects the realities of our time," Obama said. "For example, if you are a citizen, you shouldn’t have to wait years before your family is able to join you in America."
There were about 11.2 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in 2010, according to a Pew Research Hispanic report. Conservative leaders have said they are trying to create a modern immigration system, as well as woo back Latino voters.
The immigration reform package must first pass the Senate, then be considered by the House.
Will these efforts result in immigration legislation this year that will eventually fix the immigration system? And is this fair to the immigrants who waited, or are still waiting, their turns for legal visas and green cards?