May 5, 2013
Most agree that despite the flaws in S744, it is an acceptable compromise. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano appeared at the last of three hearings on the bill. She echoed President Obama's view that the bill is a compromise and although there are sections that the administration does not agree on, overall it reflects the Administration's basic principles regarding comprehensive immigration reform.
In his weekly radio address from Mexico, President Obama appeared optimistic on the passage of an immigration reform bill:
In recent weeks, we’ve seen a commonsense immigration reform bill introduced in the Senate. This bill is a compromise, which means that nobody got everything they wanted – including me. But it’s largely consistent with the principles I’ve laid out from the beginning.
It would continue to strengthen security at our borders and hold employers more accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers.
It would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are already in this country illegally.
And it would modernize our legal immigration system so that we’re able to reunite families and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who will help create good paying jobs and grow our economy.
These are all commonsense steps that the majority of Americans support. So there’s no reason that immigration reform can’t become a reality this year.Advocates, including the Catholic Bishops and officials from immigrants rights groups, continue to criticize the bill. One concern is the cutoff fate that excludes people who arrive after December 2011.
In the CNMI provision, a pathway to citizenship is for legal aliens reaches back even farther –back to 2003, for some. Legal, long-term aliens in the CNMI are protesting the difference in dates, as they should. Under the provisions in S.744, 11 million qualifying undocumented aliens would be granted a pathway to citizenship if they arrived before December 2011. However, many legal aliens in the CNMI would not even be considered for any type of status, never mind a pathway to citizenship, if they arrived after 2003. A uniform date should run through the bill according to long-term legal aliens who are left out by far reaching cutoff dates.
One CNMI long-term, legal guest worker questioned, "Why 2003? Why not 2008 or 2011, like it is for the undocumented?"
The bishops also cited the fines, income and employment requirements that must be met to qualify that are part of the bill. Kevin Abbleby director of immigration refugee policy for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said, "If you're going to leave several hundred thousand behind and leave them in the shadows you're not solving the problem. We're very concerned that what the bill does is it punishes people for being poor."
Still, most advocates agree that they will fight for the bill, despite its flaws.