On Thursday, the United States Senate passed a bill which will be a major overhaul of the country’s current immigration laws. Here are the top five things you need to know.
The United States Senate passed a bill called the S.744, also known as the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act”. The votes were 68-32.
1. Record-breaking build up at the border
There will be more investment in border security, including
- Increasing Border Patrol agents from 21,000 to 38,405.
- Additional 350 miles of fencing (bringing total to 700).
- Using specific technology resources at the U.S.-Mexico border.
2. An achievable path to citizenship
There is an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. A person without a status may apply for a temporary registered provisional immigrant (RPI) status and then apply for citizenship. Here is the path:
First, apply for a RPI status
1. Entered the country without a status before December 31, 2011.
2. Do not have a criminal record and pass a background check.
3. Pay a $500 fine and application fees.
4. Submit biometric identification data.
5. The RPI status is good for six years. After that time, a person may renew the status for an additional $500 fine, an additional background check, and show proof of employment under the RPI status.
Second, apply for permanent residency
6. After 10 years in RPI status, an immigrant can apply for legal permanent residency (LPR).
7. Pay a $1,000 fine and application fees.
8. Pass additional background checks.
9. Show proof of working under the RPI status.
Third, apply for citizenship
10. After three years of being a legal permanent resident, a person can then apply for citizenship.
The U.S. government estimated that 15 percent will be unable to apply due to lack of funds or won’t be able to pass the background checks. They plan that an estimated 9 million people will achieve RPI status.
3. The most generous DREAM Act ever
Anyone who entered the U.S. before the age of 16 who has completed high school and some college or military service, and who has been in RPI status for at least five years can apply for permanent residency and U.S. citizenship. There is no age cap. There is an estimated 2.1 million DREAMers eligible for this status.
4. Unprecedented family reunification
There is an estimated 4.4 million people who have been approved for a green card, but have been waiting for years, even decades, because the government system is so backlogged. Now these people can reunite with their family. This bill clears out any backlogs over a period of nine years. It also allows those who have been deported for noncriminal reasons, but who are a parent, spouse, or child of a citizen or green card holder, or are a DREAMer to apply for RPI status from abroad.
5. Economic growth
The government hopes this bill will boost the U.S. economy. It is estimated this bill will reduce the country’s debt by $197 billion in the first 10 years and an additional $700 billion in the second decade. It’s also estimated that the effects of this bill includes,
- Increasing earnings of all American workers by $470 billion over 10 years.
- Increasing tax revenue by $109 billion for 10 years.
- Creating an average of an additional 121,000 jobs each year.
- Providing a boost to the Social Security system, adding $606 billion.
Now the bill will go to the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill must also be passed by the House and then signed by President Obama to take effect. However, there are doubts the bill will pass in the House. Read why by clicking here.
Information, graphic, and featured photograph provided by www.americanprogress.org. Featured photograph source: AP/J. Scott Applewhite