27 April, 2006

Depends On What Your Definition Of "Reform" Is

I am not best pleased with recent developments on the immigration front.

Read the article. And then explain to me exactly what kind of alledged reform the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, otherwise known as the Hagel-Martinez bill mentioned in the article (And further known as S.2612, for those that like to have the bill reference in hand.), is supposed to be.

The big features of the bill, at least on the front of illegal immigrants:
  • Allowing access to citizenship after five years of residence. Under the current rules, the minimum length of time required to gain citizenship after an unlawful entry into this country was... five years as a legal permanent resident.
  • Those under the five-year mark are separated into two groups: those with residence between two and five years, and those under the two-year mark.
  • The first group would be eligible for citizenship, but only after returning to their country of origin to receive their documentation. The current system for "resident alien" status? Must return to the country of origin to receive their documentation.
  • The second group, those with residency on under two years, are ineligible to apply for citizenship under this system, but may still apply for legal permanent residence status. The current system? Those with under two years are eligible to apply for legal permanent resident status.
  • Illegal immigrants who choose to serve in the United States Armed Forces have a lowered time-in-country requirement of 2 years. Under the current system, the time required is a minimum of one year of service and current legal permanent resident status.
(Current system data gathered from this document. [Large PDF warning] Proposed system data gathered from S.2612, Sec. 601, short titled as the "Immigrant Accountability Act of 2006".)

Seriously, folks. With this proposal, pretty much everything stays the same. And those who take the one absolute path to guaranteed citizenship, service in the US military, have their requirements lengthened.

I fail to see the reform in this reform.

Now, a true Democratic partisan in this debate would probably say something along the lines of "Well, that's probably why Bush supports this bill. The Do-Nothing President in action!"

Which means that, for the first time on this issue, I would actually agree with a Democratic partisan. You may now go have a heart attack due to the sheer shock of the concept.

1 comment:

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

I think you are mixing apples and oranges to some extent.

Under the reform bill, if you have five years of illegal residency (even if you have no family ties to the U.S. and no work eligiblity), you are eligible to be a lawful permanent resident for five years and then to be a citizen.

Under current law, you can live in the U.S. for your entire life and not be eligible to become a lawful permanent resident, unless you have family ties (most often marriage, and less often a parent or adult child) or work eligiblity (which is largely restricted to high skill college graduates).

Thus, the reform bill is essentially an amnesty bill.