Undocumented Immigrants Respond To Immigration Bill
The 844-page legislation calls for border security as the cornerstone of immigration reform. It also allows unauthorized immigrants who were in the U.S. before Dec. 31, 2011 to apply for temporary legal status and a green card after 10 years, then U.S. citizenship after another three years. It enforces all American business owners to use a program to check the immigration status of new employees within five years to ensure they are not hiring undocumented immigrants. Some visas for relatives of U.S. citizens will be reduced, while the number of visas for immigrants specialized in science, technology, math and engineering or in other low-skilled areas will be expanded.
Bablo Alvarado, director of the Day Labor Organizing Network, said they are not happy with the 10-year-long wait to apply for permanent residency. For him, it means undocumented immigrants will be subjected to law enforcement. He also points out for border security stated in the bill, they refer to the U.S.—Mexico border, not the U.S.—Canada border, and law enforcement at the border has been involved with human right violation, and many people are killed there.
“Every minute people will be always at risk,” Alvarado said, “it’s obviously unacceptable to us. We brought Obama to power, and we deserve better than that.”
The new bill bought in a new Registered Provision Immigrant status (RPI), a sort of second-class non-citizens status. Most undocumented immigrants that can demonstrate their presence in the US before Dec. 31, 2011, will qualify for RPI if they can also demonstrate a clean criminal record and pay a $500 fine and back taxes. Grantees of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) who pass through some new background checks will automatically be eligible for RPI application. Immigrants deported before Dec. 31, 2011 for non-criminal reasons and who have a U.S. citizen spouse/child can re-enter the U.S. and apply for RPI. RPI is also eligible for someone who was deported and re-entered the U.S. without authorization before Dec. 31, 2011.
Edna Monry, an undocumented student, said she is happy to see that the DACA beneficiaries will be first to receive citizenship according to the bill, but she is also concerned about those who are not qualified for DACA.
“Not just DREAMers, not just our peers, but our family and our community members as well,” Monry said, “we are talking about our brothers, our sisters, our moms and our neighbors.”
Lawyers, supporters, activists and undocumented immigrants are still trying to get through the 844 pages of the bill.
“We are very critical,” Monry said, “Deportation is still going on, and why is that people that could be potentially benefited from this bill are getting deported.”