The immigration debate, which has been a major talking point in American politics over the last several decades, has reached a standstill.
However, as the main piece of legislation, Senate bill 744, continues to be examined and debated, the question seems to be when, not if, the talks about immigration reform will heat up again.
At the heart of the issue is S.B. 744, which passed the Senate June 27, 2013. Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said that the House will not consider the bill, which he says was rushed through Congress.
Boehner, along with other conservative Republicans, is believed to have major concerns with the path to citizenship laid out in S.B. 744, causing the standstill.
The sponsors of the bill include Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
The bill’s title is the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act.” It’s aim, as found on www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/s744, is to “provide for comprehensive immigration reform and for other purposes.”
It addresses border security by implementing a “Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy,” which would focus on controlling all points of entry into the United States along the Southern border.
This would be done by giving the governor of a state, with approval of the Secretary of Defense, the ability to order National Guard units to the border. In addition, the Secretary would be able to increase border infrastructure and improve emergency communications along the border.
The bill also allows the Secretary to grant Registered Provisional Immigration (RPI) status to those here illegally after passing national security and law enforcement protocol. The status would be granted to those who meet the requirements, apply before the end of the application period, pay the required fee and penalty, and have been present since Dec. 31, 2011.
Should an alien with RPI status show evidence of employment or full-time education and English-language skills, among other eligibility requirements, the Secretary may adjust their status to “alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence.”
S.B. 744 also establishes a “merit-based and points immigrant admission system.” Points would be awarded based on certain criteria, such as education, employment, high demand for occupation, English language, age and family relationships.
The bill also cracks down on employers who knowingly hire workers without proper documentation and fail to check with the proper employment offices.
In addition, the bill seeks to prevent trafficking and abuse from occuring when employers recruit workers abroad. It forces employers to send detailed information to government offices and prohibits hiring that is discriminatory based on race, color, creed, sex, national origin, religion, age or disability. This is a victory in the fight against human trafficking, which continues to receive more national and international attention.