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Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill Introduced by Senate

On April 16, 2013 the US Senate introduced S. 744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” (BSEOIMA), an 844 page comprehensive immigration reform bill. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) produced a detailed summary of the bill, as amended by the sponsors on May 1, 2013, which can be found here. The core features of the bill include:

  • Increased enforcement and funding for enforcement;
  • Reforms to the temporary and permanent legal immigration system, including reduction in backlogs and new guest worker or temporary visa categories “future flow”;
  • An earned road map to legal status (“Registered Provisional Status”) and citizenship over 18 years based on triggers in the enforcement area and penalties;
  • Reforms to the immigration court and detention system, restoration of due process, judge and agency discretion, and fairness in the removal process

These core provisions are consistent with the blueprint President Obama asked the Congress to consider, propose and debate.

Over the next few weeks, I will be analyzing some of the new or key provisions. There are a lot of good things in the bill that immigration lawyers have been advocating for over many years, many of which are small but important tweaks either to process and procedure, justice and fairness, or just plain common sense. There are also a lot of nasty provisions as well as omissions, such as the lack of immigration options for LGBT families. Finally, there are some creative new options worth considering. Overall, the bill obviously reflects lots of compromise on both sides of the aisle as well as all sides of the immigration issue.

The bipartisan Senate Gang of Eight should be commended for coming this far in good faith to draft a comprehensive bill that will please many people though not everyone. Their press conference above reflects their hard work at compromise. Now the test is how the bill will shake out after debate, amendments (some of which will be aimed to kill the bill), votes, the House’s version, and whether we can get a decent enough bill passed that President Obama will be willing to sign.