A few weeks ago, the Republican Party completed its yearly strategy retreat. At the retreat, the Congressional members debated (amongst many topics) the suggested parameters for the highly anticipated comprehensive immigration reform legislation. After the retreat concluded, the Party unveiled its standards for the new legislation. These standards highlight six chief goals that must be accomplished before the House Republicans will vote to pass any proposed legislation in the coming year.
The Six Standards for Reform
Congressman Paul Ryan succinctly described the central message of the standards when he stated, "It's not trust then verify. It's verify then trust." The standards heavily emphasize the requirement for stricter enforcement of the existing immigration laws, particularly in regards to deportation initiation and proceedings. The first standard thus requires that the U.S. government increase the efficiency of border security before any immigration-encouraging legislation takes effect. The increased efficiency would likely take the form of increasing the number of border patrol agents, the number of border checkpoints, and the number of video and aerial surveillance equipment that is placed at the border.
Second, the Republicans have been lobbying for the creation of an entry-exit visa tracking system. The goal of this system is to assist U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and other immigration agencies in quickly identifying and locating foreign nationals who stay in the U.S. beyond their period of authorized residence or who initially enter the country without proper immigration status. The Republicans would likely make the implementation of this system a prerequisite to expanding new immigration opportunities.
The third standard is the creation of a paperless and electronic employment verification system which would replace the current system that has been criticized as inefficient and time-consuming. The goal of the verification system is to assist U.S. employers with confirming a prospective worker's employment authorization and identity before hiring commences.
Fourth, the Republicans wish to redraft the U.S.'s immigration laws so that the country makes more green cards available to highly skilled workers in place of relatives of lawful permanent residents (green card holders) or U.S. citizens. The purpose of refocusing the available green cards to skilled foreign nationals is to attract the most talented members of every field and encourage them to relocate to the United States.
The fifth standard that the Republicans have adopted is providing some sort of immigration relief to the hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals who came to the country as minors (this demographic is frequently called DREAMers). The immigration relief would likely be conditioned on the successful completion of college or service in the U.S. armed forces.
Finally, the sixth standard is a restatement of the Republicans' vehement opposition to establishing a special pathway to citizenship for foreign nationals who are currently in the U.S. without immigration status. Instead of a special pathway, the Republicans would likely create a process that requires these foreign nationals to complete security and background checks, pay penalties and back taxes, and pass an English language test.
We have been anxiously awaiting any movement on the comprehensive immigration reform legislation. It is our ardent hope that the publication of these standards signifies that the Republicans will finally be moving forward with drafting the much-needed changes to immigration law. Continue to check back with our blog for the most up-to-date news on immigration reform.
Additional Blog Posts
The 'Majority's Majority' and Immigration Reform, ImmigRantings, November 8, 2013
More States Expected to Exert Control Regarding Illegal Immigration Problems, ImmigRantings, August 3, 2012