|The Senate and the White House hammer out a deal on illegal immigrant
The plan would create a temporary worker program to bring new arrivals to the U.S and a separate program to cover agricultural workers. Skills and education level would for the first time be weighted more heavily than family connections in deciding whether immigrants should get permanent legal status. New high-tech employment verification measures would make sure that workers are here legally. ...The fur should begin flying shortly. This bill sounds to me like straightforward amnesty, and I'm not sure what in it keeps even more people from streaming across the border, hoping to get in on the deal.
... The breakthrough came when negotiators struck a bargain on a so-called "point system" that prioritizes immigrants' education and skill level over family connections in deciding how to award green cards.
The proposed agreement would allow illegal immigrants to come forward and obtain a "Z visa" and — after paying fees and a $5,000 fine — ultimately get on track for permanent residency, which could take between eight and 13 years. Heads of household would have to return to their home countries first.
They could come forward right away to claim a probationary card that would let them live and work legally in the U.S., but could not begin the path to permanent residency or citizenship until border security improvements and the high-tech worker identification program were completed.
A new temporary guest worker program would also have to wait until those so-called "triggers" had been activated.
Those workers would have to return home after work stints of two years, with little opportunity to gain permanent legal status or ever become U.S. citizens. They could renew their guest worker visas twice, but would be required to leave for a year in between each time.
Democrats had pressed instead for guest workers to be permitted to stay and work indefinitely in the U.S.
In perhaps the most hotly debated change, the proposed plan would shift from an immigration system primarily weighted toward family ties toward one with preferences for people with advanced degrees and sophisticated skills. Republicans have long sought such revisions, which they say are needed to end "chain migration" that harms the economy, while some Democrats and liberal groups say it's an unfair system that rips families apart.
Family connections alone would no longer be enough to qualify for a green card — except for spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens.
New limits would apply to U.S. citizens seeking to bring foreign-born parents into the country.
Labels: amnesty, Bush administration, illegal immigration, Ted Kennedy