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Gang Of Eight’s New Pathways To Citizenship


Aired 4/16/13

Gang Of Eight's New Pathways To Citizenship

The hotly anticipated bill to overhaul our nation's immigration system is expected to be presented Tuesday by a bipartisan group of senators. At stake are the lives of at least 11 million — that’s the number of people living here without proper immigration documents.

From articles, interviews and tweets, we've pieced together what the proposal has in mind for different types of immigrant populations — long-term illegal residents, farm workers and felons, to name a few.

Potential Pathways Under Gang Of Eight's Immigration Reform Bill


Long Term Residents

High Skilled Workers

Lower Skilled Workers


Agricultural Workers

Immigrants With Serious Criminal Records

The Path For Long Term Residents

Long term residents — represented here by a hamburger, the most American thing we can think of — living in the United States anytime before Jan. 1, 2012, would be eligible to apply for a green card 10 years after receiving registered provisional status.

During those 10 years, the government would be expected to clear out the monstrous backlog of waiting visa applications keeping hundreds of thousands of families apart.

Long term residents would have to pay a $1,000 fine and back taxes. If they learn English and stay out of trouble — no felonies and no more than two misdemeanors — they will be able to apply for permanent residency. After getting their green cards, they would have to wait another three years before applying for citizenship.

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The Path For High Skilled Workers

High skilled workers are individuals with a specialized skill sets like engineers, professors or computer programmers. They generally have college degrees.

The new proposal would grant 220,000 new green cards each year for these individuals.

And the number of work visas available would double from 65,000 to 110,000, with the possibility of granting up to 180,000 visas each year in the future.

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The Path For Low Skilled Workers

There would be an established visa program for 20,000 foreigners in low-skilled jobs starting in 2015. The numbers of these low-skilled visas would increase to 75,000 in 2019.

But only 15,000 visas would be granted to immigrant construction workers each year.

It is still unclear how many green cards would be distributed to low skilled workers, and how the number would be determined. And that might depend on a provision requiring the border to be secured before low skill workers can apply to become permanent residents.

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The Path For DREAMers

DREAMers are immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents at a young age without proper documentation. Many of them currently qualify for the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

To qualify, a person must be 31 years old as of June 15, 2012. In the Gang of Eight's new proposal, DREAMers would have an accelerated pathway to citizenship.

DREAMers would be able obtain green cards in five years and citizenship immediately thereafter.

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The Path For Agricultural Workers

Current farm workers in the country without documentation would be given an accelerated path to citizenship under the new proposal, because their intensive labor is considered vital to the economy and the nation's food source.

If they agree to work for another five to seven years, their accelerated path would be similar to that of the DREAMers.

Visas for agricultural workers would be limited to 337,000 over three years. And wages would be based on a survey of labor market data for various farming jobs.

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The Path For Immigrants With Serious Criminal Records

Immigrants living here with a felony or three misdemeanors on their record would be given no path to citizenship under this bill.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | April 16, 2013 at 11:32 a.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

Let's move forward and give them amnesty. That is what they want and will most likely happen. After all, families will be brought together and kept from being separated. That's a good thing, I agree. It does not sit well with me in separating families despite their knowledge that when they come here illegally, this is what may in fact happen. Nor does it sit all too well with me that people come here illegally in hopes of getting amnesty. But then I am aware of the fact how difficult it can be to obtain US citizenship, too. It does need reform. So let's move on. Give amnesty along with reform.

But will this fix the immigration problem?

Will people continue to enter the US illegally because this is the way it's always been?

Will the government of Mexico and other nations fix their house, push for reform on their end, too?

None of us probably have the answer and only time will tell.

I'm okay with America doing the right thing and giving amnesty. But are we ready to accept the costs? Look at the large influx of immigrants in Europe, and the race riots and tensions happening over there as we speak. Do you really think that's not going to happen here, too?

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Avatar for user 'Real_MF_G'

Real_MF_G | April 16, 2013 at 1:36 p.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

Why increase the number of work visas while equally qualified U.S. citizens collect unemployment checks. This country is made weak because it doesn't take care of it's own.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | April 16, 2013 at 2:32 p.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

If this really is to be, I have a suggestion. Let's limit the amount of social benefits they can apply for. I know people here soaking up freebees and sending money to relatives in Mexico. They should also maintain a steady work record and have limited unemployment benefits. Out of work for more than 3 months, sent back home. They should also be expected to pay the full amount for Obamacare or be fined like the rest of us.

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Avatar for user 'ErikKengaard'

ErikKengaard | April 16, 2013 at 3:41 p.m. ― 3 years, 10 months ago

Look up a report by Professor George Borjas, Harvard. He calculates that the wages of native-born workers in competition with immigrants (legal and illegal) are reduced by $402 billion per year. The reduction in wages is offset by an increase in profits or wages of those who use immigrant labor of $437 billion. The resulting negligible "immigration surplus" represents two tenths of one percent of GDP. The profits of 437 billion go to the 1%, who have spent 1.5 billion lobbying for increased immigration.

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