U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and fellow Democrats on Thursday unveiled a “framework” for a sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration laws. In wake of the furor over Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigrants, Democrats said the first step toward reform must be bolstered border security.
The REPAIR Proposal, which still needs to be drafted into a formal bill, addresses seven main areas for immigration reform. These include achieving operational control of the nation’s borders to prevent future illegal immigration, finding and removing individuals who are unlawfully present in the United States, halting unauthorized employment using a biometric employment verification system, and maximizing the nation’s economic prosperity through reforms to the legal immigration system.
Among the document’s many recommendations is the proposal to provide an immediate green card to foreign students graduating from a U.S. educational institution with an advanced degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM), who have an offer of employment in a field relevant to their degree. Further, REPAIR would strive to eliminate the family-based immigration backlog over a period of eight years by increasing the per country family immigration quotas from 7 to 10 percent. The REPAIR Proposal would also implement a two-step process to legalize undocumented individuals living in the United States who do not have criminal convictions and who do not pose a threat to national security.
Let us hope that this proposal which contains ideas from both political sides also inspires partnership in Congress to continue to work towards a comprehensive immigration bill in the next 2 years.