July 27, 2013
As more people take an in-depth look at the Senate immigration bill and listen to proposals from House members, it becomes clear that millions would not be included in proposed immigration reform.
While some U.S. House members propose a 15-year path with even harsher requirements than what is written in the Senate bill, questions are being raised about the wisdom behind a path that extend over a decade. The 13-year pathway to citizenship that is included in S. 744 would be too rocky a road for many to travel. It has harsh requirements that many could not meet, including workplace and enforcement requirements according to Gustavo Torres from CASA. He estimates that 3.5 million could not meet requirements or would decide not to pursue the path.
The Social Security Administration estimates that 400,000 undocumented aliens who could be granted provisional status under the Senate provisions, would eventually have to drop out within six years because they could not meet financial requirements.
Other inconsistencies remain a concern. Some members of the same family would qualify under the Senate bill's December 2011 cutoff date, while others would not. Some states consider certain crime felonies, while others do not. Older undocumented aliens may not live to obtain citizenship under the proposal.
The same predicament is faced by some of the legal, long-term aliens in the CNMI, who were not included under the 6 categories of CNMI aliens covered in Section 2109 of S. 744, The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. Those left out include some small business investors with no U.S. citizen children and those who fall under several other visa categories. While they may be covered in more general provisions, the questions is would the specific language in Section 2109 cause the appearance of a conflict within the law, thus legally disqualifying them from any pathway?
I understand that the bill is a compromise and "not everyone can be covered", as we are constantly reminded. Still, it is always better to include as many as can and deserve to be included from the onset, rather than to exclude some and try to go back at a later date to include them.
That said, another group conspicuously omitted from immigration reform proposals is the CNMI's undocumented aliens. While millions of Americans are supporting a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented aliens, little attention has been paid to the undocumented aliens in the CNMI.
Dr. Celia Lamkin, president of the CNMI Chapter of Pinoys for Good Governance is pushing for inclusion of the undocumented aliens in the CNMI most of whom entered the CNMI legally and fell out of status as a result of job loss. She started a petition that targets members of the U.S. House who have yet to introduce an immigration reform bill, hoping that this group will also be granted a pathway to citizenship. It is difficult to argue that 11 million undocumented aliens in the U.S. deserve a pathway to citizenship, yet a couple thousand undocumented aliens in the CNMI do not.
The petition also calls for the removal of a 5 year waiting period for those who have worked in the CNMI legally for 10 years or more. The petition is not online, but is being circulated on Saipan and supporters can sign it at Island Florals and Gifts.