Thursday, April 06, 2006

Compromise reached in US Senate on immigration reform

Members of the US Senate have reached a compromise on comprehensive immigration reform. These developments have been very closely watched in El Salvador where hundreds of people per month leave to try and make their way into the US.

As reported in the Washington Post:

Under the agreement, the Senate would allow undocumented workers a path to lawful employment and citizenship if they could prove -- through work stubs, utility bills or other documents -- that they have been in the country for five years. To attain citizenship, those immigrants would have to pay a $2,000 penalty, back taxes, learn English, undergo a criminal background check and remain working for 11 years.

Those who have been here a shorter time would have to return to one of 16 designated ports of entry, such as El Paso, Tex., and apply for a new form of temporary work visa for low-skilled and unskilled workers. An additional provision would disqualify illegal immigrants who have been in the country less than two years.

I have not yet seen any analysis of how the new legislation would impact the more than 200,000 Salvadorans in the US on Temporary Protected Status.

Assuming that this measure is passed, it will then go to conference committee where there will be an attempt to harmonize it with the much tougher bill passed by the US House of Representatives, known as the Sensenbrenner bill.

Having spoken to Rep. Sensenbrenner at a recent public meeting, I can guarantee that the immigration reform fight is a long way from over.


Disputes between Senators from both parties are threatening to delay or derail the compromise described above.

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