Legislation was introduced in the US Senate today that would give legal immigration status to young foreign nationals who came to United States as undocumented children. The bill looks similar to the new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals introduced by the Department of Homeland Security this summer. It goes even farther as it ultimately offers permanent legal status and ultimately US citizenship.
The bill was introduced by three Republicans, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Sen. John McCain. This shift in Republican immigration policy seems to come in response to the recent barrage from several political pundits and experts who have advised the Republican Party to reach out to the Latino community. However, it’s unlikely that Democrats will allow the Republicans to steal away their thunder on the immigration issue.
The bill was even attacked by Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center, as “really unfortunate” because it does not include the path to US citizenship. But according to Sen. Kyl, the bill does offer a path to legal US permanent residency, and at that point the foreign national would be on a path to US citizenship.
To be eligible, the bill requires that applicants must have lived in the US for five years before the bill’s enactment, must have entered the US while under age 14, must have good moral character, must not have a felony conviction or two or more misdemeanor convictions, and must be under age 28 or under 32 for those with a US bachelor degree. This bill would grant a W-1 non-immigrant visa. Then the foreign national would have six years to earn a college degree or serve the US military for four years. W visa holders would be required to report every six months to the DHS. They would be forbidden from receiving public welfare benefits or federal student loans.
Once the person has a college degree or four years of military service, he or she becomes eligible for a four-year W-2 work visa. After the person finishes four years of work or has an advanced college degree, the person would be eligible for a W-3 visa that is renewable every four years. Then the W-3 visa holder would be on a path toward legal permanent residency, otherwise known as the Green card.