Legalizing undocumented immigrants is not new. European countries, including Italy and Spain, at different points, have legalized their immigrant populations. Spain called it normalization; others used the term regularization. These programs mostly stopped short of granting immigrants a path to citizenship or even permanent residence, which makes the U.S. Senate bill all the more audacious and in many ways, groundbreaking. How, then can we craft an historic piece of legislation that will not only reflect our national values but also provide an example to show the world how it can be done?
Any legalization program must address a number of considerations and components prior to implementation. These include eligibility, waivers, confidentiality, due process and judicial review, background checks, fines and fees, status and rights of pending applicants, authorized stays, adjustment of status requirements, public information, and retroactivity of benefits. Without built-in protections and procedural safeguards in the bill or rulemaking process, for example, legalization could trigger enforcement actions or litigation that undermines the entire process.
Senate Bill 744 will enter, in the next couple of months, the crucial phases of debate and scrutiny, mark-ups and ”mark-downs,” and eventually the much anticipated amendment process. Not all of us will have the chance to visit our members of Congress or work with committee staff to ensure this immigration bill will emerge from the Senate with the above-mentioned components – and its integrity – intact.
Many of us have ideas about what we’d like to change in the bill or protect as amendments are offered.
What amendments of the legalization component of S.744 would you like to amend?
What would you like to protect from amendments?