On May 9, 2007, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced S.1348, Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, a 380-page, unusually complex piece of legislation.
S.1348 was drafted in cooperation with the White House, and co-authored by a bipartisan group of 12 senators including Sen. Ted Kennedy and Sen. John McCain. S.1348 is a modified, more conservative version of the Kennedy-McCain Immigration Bill of 2005.
(A quick-reading summary of S.1348's major provisions are listed below on this page. See detailed Pros & Cons of S.1348 at page two of this article. )
For status of S.1348 as of mid-June 2007, see Jubilant Postmortem for Immigration Reform Act of 2007.
Legislative Fears about S.1348
One of the great fears about S.1348 is that, within its volume and draconian complexity, lie a bevy of undetected Bushian special-interest favors and cleverly hidden political agenda time-bombs.
Such was the case with two other mammoth legislative centerpieces of the Bush administration agenda: the USA Patriot Act and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Both were riddled with hidden agendas undetected when the acts were passed by Congress, which was given little time to thoroughly read the proposed legislation.
Congress and the American public have rightly grown distrustful of intricate, voluminous legislative packages, such as S.1348, which are strongly pushed by President George W. Bush.
Latest NewsMajor provisions of S.1348, Comprehensive Immigration Reform, are:
12-15 Million Current Illegal Immigrants
Immediately receive a 4-year, renewable “Z” visa, and probationary legal status. To renew a “Z” visa, applicants must pass an English proficiency test.
Illegal immigrants with “Z” visa may register as lawful permanent U.S. resident (i.e. receive green cards) once they pay $5,000 in fines plus $2,000 in processing fees and pass a background check. Head of household must also return to the family’s home country, and may then reenter the U.S.
Processing of green cards for “Z” visa holders will take place only after the current 8-year backlog of legal applicants is completed.
Most undocumented farmworkers would immediately receive green cards.
Guest Worker Program
Creates a program for 600,000 low-skilled, low-paid temporary workers who will be issued 2-year “Y” visas, renewable for 3 2-year periods.
Workers must return to their home country for 1 year between “Y” visa renewable periods.
Workers bringing dependents may only obtain 1, non-renewable “Y” visa. Dependents may enter the U.S. only if they show proof of medical insurance.
Requires U.S. employers to verify all employees’ Social Security, green card or other ID number through a federal electronic clearing system.
Increases penalties for illegal employment and for inadequate employee record-keeping.
New Immigrants after January 1, 2007
New visas will be capped at 380,000, and issued based on a point system that favors work skills and advanced education over family unification.
Preference will be given to highly skilled workers such as scientists, medical experts and computer specialists.
Only spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and permanent residents would be eligible for visas. Adult children and siblings would no longer be eligible.
Caps will be significantly lowered to 40,000 annually for U.S. citizens only to bring foreign-born parents to the U.S.
Allows new daily internment of 27,500 illegal immigrants.
Provides for 70 new state-of-the-art watchtowers and 380 more miles of walls along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Provides for 18,000 new U.S. Border Patrol agents.
BackgroundThe US is home to an estimated 12 to 15 million undocumented workers and their families, all who are illegally in the U.S.
Illegal, undocumented immigrants live throughout the US, but are concentrated in California and Texas. About 85% of illegal immigrants cross the U.S./Mexico border, and hail from Mexico and Central and South America. More than 50% of illegal immigrants were born in Mexico.
Most undocumented immigrants are illegally hired by US employers and usually paid less than legal minimum wage to work in the agricultural, manufacturing, construction and hospitality industries and in backroom jobs. These workers have no healthcare or other benefits, and often labor under sub-standard working conditions.
The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that undocumented workers represent about 5% of the U.S. non-military work force, and a high portion of laborers in certain fields, including 29% of roofers, 24% of agricultural workers and 25% of construction laborers.
Like generations of American immigrants before them, they leave their home countries because they live in dire poverty-stricken conditions, are unemployed, and/or desperately need to feed and shelter their families.
Undocumented immigrant workers pay about $7 billion a year into the U.S. Social Security system, but they never receive benefits from the system. Social Security Administration solvency is dependent on receiving contributions from illegal immigrant workers. (For more info, see Illegal Immigration Explained - Profits & Poverty, Social Security & Starvation.}