US Congress registration date reform could impact more than 8 million immigrants

Not every initiative to change US immigration law is as significant and capable of helping millions of immigrants as the one recently introduced in the Senate by Senators Dick Durbin and Alex Padilla. Senators jointly proposed a new bill titled Renewal of the immigration provisions of the Immigration Act Law from 1929 this would update the existing registration date to allow approximately eight million immigrants to apply for permanent residency if they have lived in the United States continuously for at least seven years. Applicants should be of good character but could apply even if they are currently illegally in the United States.

First registry change since 1986

This proposed change to the registration date would be the first since 1986. Until changed, the current deadline for register eligibility remains January 1, 1972. In other words, to be eligible for an application for permanent residence on the current registration date, you must show a physical presence in the United States for more than 50 years. The new bill to update the criteria for the registry is co-sponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ben Ray Luján and complementary legislation was introduced in the House by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren in July of this year.

Why change is needed

The recording date was introduced for several reasons. On the one hand, it was felt that there was a point beyond which an undocumented immigrant’s contribution to this country outweighed the harm done. On the other hand, the reliance on a registration date was an acknowledgment of the practical impossibility of driving millions of undocumented people away forever. As in other areas of law where there are statutes of limitations associated with prosecuting offenders, fairness required means for certain long-term residents, i.e. those of good character, to make amends honorable. In short, it was felt that it was logical to allow these immigrants, who currently live in the shadows, who work while being paid on the black market, and who live with the hope that one day, in one way or on the other, they will be able to step out of their quiet lives of despair, into the mainstream of American society.

Proponents of the initiative argue that long-term undocumented immigrants who could benefit from this legislation have deep roots in America. They made their life and that of their family here. They have come to share the same values ​​that other Americans cherish. They belong to the same community organizations, their children attend the same schools, and many attend the same churches and have the same hopes and fears as other Americans.

Simple procedure involved

If the new initiatives in the House and Senate were to pass, what is significant about them is that no medical tests, no financial affidavits of support and no US petitioners are required for nominees to register to pass. Instead, all that is required to apply is for the applicant to submit an application, along with the appropriate fees, to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Benefits of change

Proponents of the legislation argue it would provide a much-needed pathway to a green card for up to eight million people, including dreamers, forcibly displaced persons, holders of temporary protected status, children of long-term visa holders who are at risk of deportation, essential workers, and highly skilled members of our workforce such as H-1B visa holders who have been waiting years for a green card to become available. According to estimates, if the undocumented people covered by this bill became citizens, they would contribute about $83 billion annually to the US economy and about $27 billion in taxes.

Will the bills pass?

However, this initiative faces a difficult road to success. On the one hand, Republicans do not support these measures. They focus more on immigration issues on the southern border and on enforcement and deportations. Since the House and Senate are currently controlled by Democrats, it is still theoretically possible for them to pass the bills. But realistically, it will be difficult to build the momentum to do so. Every Democrat in the Senate, without exception, will need to support this bill, and in the House almost every Democrat will be needed. Hurry up. The recent devastation caused by Hurricane Ian, to name but one, promises to stall the agenda of Congress. There is not much time left to adopt the measures.

It’s now or never

Otherwise, the fast approaching November elections should change everything. While the latest Politico poll indicates the Senate is still a toss-up, Republicans are likely to take the majority of House seats. If so, these bills will be dead in the water and immigration reform will have to go back to the drawing boards.

It remains to be seen whether the most important step in immigration reform in decades will be achieved or whether significant immigration reform will once again be relegated to a vain hope.

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