Published:  April 15, 2013

A draft of proposed immigration reform legislation has been released by the Gang of 8, that bipartisan group of U.S. Senators who have been attempting to style a legislative solution to our society’s current immigration related ills.  The details contained in the bill may or may not be of much relevance for the moment because A) the proposal is NOT law yet and B) the actual legislation signed into law, if and when that happens, may very well bear little resemblance to the draft bill released to the public this week.

In general, most expect any new law to include, in one form or another, a path to legalization or citizenship, the payment of a hefty fine for “path” applicants”, an expanded supply of work visas, and enhanced border security.  For the path to legalization aspect, December 31, 2011 has been designated as the magic physical presence date, before which applicants must have arrived in the U.S. in order to qualify.  But again, this is only a proposal!

For the debate that is to come, two of the biggest questions the public can expect to be tossed around, and in the most political of ways, are:  Is this proposal an “amnesty”?  What will a “secure border” mean under the new law?  As to the first question, the hard core among the Republican lawmakers strongly disfavor any proposal that involves an amnesty or an excusing of unlawful behavior…..or at least not until “we have secured our borders”.  But let’s face it, if there will be a path to legalization for individuals present in the U.S. without legal status, it will involve, by definition, an excusing of unlawful behavior – although applicants will likely have to pay a monetary fine and comply with other requirements.  Thus, a far right lawmaker might not be able to avoid being seen as a loser in the end, if they continue to insist that “amnesty” can play no role whatsoever in any new immigration initiative.

If a path to legalization, or amnesty, will be conditioned on having a “secure border” in place, one wonders what has to take place in order for the border to be considered “secure”.  Certainly, for a lawmaker to seeking to make a name for him or herself, it will not be too difficult to keep upping the requirements that would comprise a “secure border”, and thus find a pretext to put a wrench into any draft proposal.

In the end, it appears there is almost no one in Congress who believes the solution to the problem of the undocumented is to try to deport 11 million folks.  It’s just a matter of whether, and when, there are enough politicians in Congress that have the political cover to support what will add up to, for all intents and purposes, an amnesty.


PUBLISHED April 15, 2013 – “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2013, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois