A group of bipartisan Senators have announced a framework to begin to fix our broken immigration laws. The following outline bodes well for most of the estimated 12 million out of status individuals currently living and working in the United States. The group of 8 Senators stated the following four “legislative pillars’ to comprehensive immigration reform. It is a good start!

  • Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
  • Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;
  • Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and,
  • Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.

Legislating to fix complex problems is hard work. The devil is in the details. What is clear today is that while there will be a pathway, conservative elements in the government will insist that the process by which status is attained is in some way retributive as a means of sanctioning individuals for having violated the governing laws and regulations. Liberals will seek to have labor protections in place to protect wages and conditions of workers more generally. Compromise is a messy but necessary business.  Sanctions imposed on applicants to legalize may be the unavoidable price to pay exacted by conservatives who had up until very recently called for immigrants to self-deport and refused to consider any measure that would amount to ‘amnesty’ for those out of status. However, the value of legalization to both American society and the communities affected will far outweigh the prospective sanctions to be imposed and will further support the reestablishment of a functional immigration system in the United States. What remains unclear at this point is what that process itself will look like. Therefore, it will be absolutely essential that individuals seeking a way to legalize only get advice from competent and licensed immigration attorneys to assist them.

To succeed, any reform measure will by definition have to include the greatest number of people currently not in some legal form of status in the United States—the so-called ‘illegals.’ To not include all but those with the most serious criminal histories would defeat the purpose of ending a situation where millions of people live clandestinely within American society. That underground existence itself creates a myriad of problems for communities and their own families who often have different forms of legal status in the United States. Therefore, advocates across the board are seeking a broad and expansive set of comprehensive reforms to touch a maximum number of people who are without any legal status.

We want our clients and the communities we serve to be particularly careful. It will be important for immigrants and their families to follow events closely and to contact our office directly for free and timely information about when, where and how to apply for legal status when the laws change. No doubt immigrants will be targeted by dishonest and incompetent individuals who will seek to take advantage of the situation and to make money from the people they mislead. Above all:  trust advice only from an attorney licensed to practice law in the United States or a community representative from a well-established immigrant service organization in your local area. The immigration attorneys at Best & Associates LLP will always be a safe and reliable source of information for the community we serve.  So by all means, contact us directly. If a pathway to legalize is created, we will help you negotiate the process to a positive, successful outcome at an affordable and reasonable price.

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