White House: Proposal for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

President Barack Obama has issued his proposal for comprehensive immigration reform. In principle, the President’s proposal is largely similar to the bipartisan framework proposed by eight Senators yesterday, with four themes of border security, cracking down on employers hiring undocumented workers, earned citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and streamlining legal immigration.   Both proposals provide for an expedited path to citizenship for undocumented youth (DREAMers).

In his remarks today announcing the proposal, the President emphasized the economic contributions made by immigrants.  His proposal includes elimination of per-country limits for and increasing employment-based immigration visas, and new immigration opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors, graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and workers in federal science and technology laboratories.  While the Senate framework explicitly mentioned agricultural workers, the President’s proposal is silent on agricultural workers.

The President’s written proposal has other significant differences with the Senate framework, including no linkage between border security and the probationary legal status and the path to citizenship; doubling the per-country limits on family-based immigration visas to relieve current backlogs; including immigration rights for same-sex couples; and reforming asylum procedures.  However, the President’s proposal also states that, “consistent with current law, people with provisional legal status will not be eligible for welfare or other federal benefits, including subsidies or tax credits under the new health care law.”

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