Immigration Reform is finally becoming a reality. Five days ago, the Senate passed an Immigration Reform Bill (S.744). Now it is being debated in the House of Representatives. If the bill in its current form is passed in the House, it could ultimately give citizenship to the 11 million people who are currently here in the U.S illegally.
One of the key components of this Bill will be to improve security of the Border between Mexico and US. This will be accomplished by doubling the number of Border Patrol agents, adding hundreds new miles of fencing as well as installing new technology along the borderline for better surveillance. If this bill passes the House of Representatives, undocumented people will be able to apply for registered provisional immigrant status (RPI) after the Homeland Security Department has developed plans to secure the border as stated above.
In order to qualify for registered provisional immigrant status, applicants must prove the following: that they arrived in the U.S before December 31 of 2011 and maintained continuous physical presence; they do not have a felony conviction or three or more misdemeanors, and pay a $500 fine. Once granted, provisional legal status will be effective for six years, and renewable for another 6 years. With RPI, people will be permitted to work and travel within the United States. It is important to note that people with RPI status would not be eligible for most federal benefits such as health care and welfare.
Registered Provisional Immigrants (RPI) will have to be in RPI for 10 years before seeking a lawful permanent resident status. They will have to show they are current on their taxes, pay a $1,000 fine, show continuous physical presence in the U.S., and are proficient in English. It is important to highlight that those that qualify under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (D.A.C.A) would be able to get their green cards in five years and citizenship immediately after.
This bill is not yet a law; it is still on its way to the House of Representatives. Even so, we must be cognizant that these issues take time. One thing we are certain about is that this bill is closer than ever.