Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Immigration Bill has been the center of controversy for the senate in the past several weeks. As Congress indecisively takes the bill off the floor and days later brings it right back on, the on going pattern of on the floor and off the floor leaves one to wonder what exactly the bill contains. Divided Republican and Democratic parties, incessantly arguing over amnesty provided to the 12 million undocumented immigrants, fail to realize that the bill contains much more than amnesty. Security, employment, education, and family unity carry more than a passive subdued overtone in the Immigration Bill.

The Bill aims to strengthen security on both, Southern and Northern, borders, as it increases surveillance technology, border patrol agents, weapons and machinery. It intends to increase diplomatic relations between the U.S and Canada and, more importantly, the U.S and Mexico in order to fight immigration and criminal offenses, including human and drug trafficking. The Bill proposes various methods to provide external and internal security. Therefore, although the Bill may seem flexible towards undocumented individuals, it certainly clamps down on criminal individuals that may have provided false information or documentation. Through the Bill, many are liable to detention, deportation, or voluntary removal.

As lawmakers aim to enhance security, they also look to enhance the economic situation with immigration in mind. A larger portion of the Bill focuses on temporary and agricultural alien employments. Persons admitted in the United States for employment through Y visas are allowed to work within the U.S for the allotted time. Employers are responsible for the undocumented individual’s labor security while the individuals profit from numerous benefits. These individuals, unfortunately, may never be able to readjust their status to lawful permanent resident, so long as the merit base system prevails and $3,000 of fines and fees remain. Benefits granted to primary non-immigrant individuals extend out to the immediate family members of the respected individuals. For purposes of family reunification, the Bill allows adjustment of status to the spouse or children of the individual; however, with the lengthy system the process can take over 20 years.

Similarly, education is given equal attention as the Bill grants individuals obtaining a bachelors or graduate degree in mathematics, engineering, sciences, or technology from an approved institution non-immigrant status student visas. Such individuals are permitted to participate in vocation during and after completion of their studies. They are, nevertheless, allowed a readjustment of status after completion of studies through the merit based system. For the purposes of family unity, any immediate family member is presumably also allowed an adjustment of status.

Though it seems that the Immigration Bill favors family, family reunification is highly dependant on the merit- based system. The merit based system is a system that assigns points to education, employment in certain fields, and English fluency. Individuals with the most amount of points are given higher priority for approved status, while inidividauls with minimal points are overlooked. With this system, family unity is only favored once an individual acquires 55 points. Thus, individuals seeking adjustment on grounds of family reunification may, in fact, never receive admittance unless these indivials previously maintained a sufficient amount of points.

Furthermore, through the Immigration Bill, individuals waiting to receive citizenship will face long delays due to backgroung checks. Background checks consist of inspections regarding names, documentation, criminal activity and the like. However, these extensive background checks may delay the citizenship process up to 2 to 3 years.

As the Bill addresses issues of education, family unity, and employment catering to the needs of non-immigrant status and immigrant status persons, many concerned individuals may bring forth the boisterous question “Does the Immigration Bill challenge the effects of Immigration on the U.S economy?” Rest assured, as Congress struggles to solve the immigration dilemma, it has not forgotten about the well being of its own country. This is apparent in the Bill itself, as lawmakers endeavored to enhance domestic security, favored citizen employment over alien employment, and proposed a study of the quality of life in the U.S with effects of immigration. Most telling, however, is the fact that the Bill advocates for the promotion of American values and customs.


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