This week President Obama revealed his “Blueprint for Immigration.” While his goals are commendable, the plan contains nothing earth-shattering. While the President acknowledges that immigrants create jobs and are key members of society, and he supports the Start-Up visa and EB-5 investment programs, the plan does not contain solid steps to foster development. So far little has been done to promote valuable visa and investment programs through Congress.
President Obama understands that “people who are in America illegally have a responsibility – to pay their back taxes and admit responsibility for breaking the law, pay a penalty, learn English, pass criminal background checks, and get right with the law – or face removal – before they can get in line and eventually earn their citizenship.” To that end, he proposes the following outline for a legalization program:
- Require applicants to register and submit to rigorous verification of eligibility, including submitting fingerprints for criminal and national security background checks;
- Applicants convicted of crimes or otherwise deemed to be national security threats would not be eligible;
- Applicants must pay a registration fee and a series of fines;
- In order to move forward, applicants must learn English and basic American civics and demonstrate that all taxes owed have been paid;
- After eight years, applicants could apply to become legal permanent residents (“green card” holders), and could apply to naturalize five years later;
- Applicants currently waiting outside theU.S.to become legal permanent residents would be eligible to receive their visas before individuals in the legalization program could apply for permanent residence. That is, undocumented immigrants who complete the requirements of the legalization program will be in the back of the line.
It’s easy to sound good and have a plan on paper. Our hope is for President Obama to make fixing the current immigration system a real priority. We are encouraged that he understands that immigrants who come out of the shadows would pay more taxes, would be more likely to start a business, and would provide overall benefits to theU.S. In order for that to happen, we have to see more “doing” by this administration, because “talking” about fixing the immigration system is not an Action Plan.
By Jared Leung