“We all agree that those who are here illegally have to earn their way to citizenship with background checks, paying taxes and penalties, and learning English.”
President Barak Obama laid out his new blueprint for immigration reforms Tuesday in Las Vegas, saying the U.S. immigration system needs overhauling.
Obama outlined the steps illegal immigrants could take to apply for citizenship, which include registering, submitting background checks and pay fees before gaining a provisional legal status. After gaining a “provisional legacy status” and learning English, the immigrants would wait in line for existing immigration backlogs to clear before applying for permanent residency and citizenship.
According to the proposal Obama made Tuesday, released to reporters under embargo, children brought to the United States illegally would be eligible for an expedited process if they go to college or serve in the military for at least two years.
He said the Senate group’s proposal is “very much in line with the principles I’ve proposed and campaigned on for the last few years. At this moment, it looks like there’s a genuine desire to get this done soon. And that’s very encouraging.”
But the two approaches differ, with the president proposing an unconditional pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. The Senate plan links such a process to additional steps to enforce border security.
In his proposal Tuesday, Obama made clear that he was not planning to loosen border security and enforcement, but he also noted that the administration has made substantial progress on this front already. Looking forward, the administration said it would seek to phase in electronic employment verification programs at companies.
But it was the proposal for easing immigration restrictions that were sure to garner the most attention. The proposal seeks to expedite applications from immigrants who are family members of existing residents or citizens.
For the first time, it would allow citizens and permanent residents to seek a visa for a same-sex partner.
To help recruit science and engineering professionals to stay in the country, Obama’s proposal would offer green cards to people who have received master’s degrees or doctorates from American universities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and have also obtained employment in the United States.