Immigration Reform Bill Finally Goes Public Today

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The Gang of 8 finally plans to unveil their compromise immigration reform bill today. The Washington Post provides a summary:

The measure would allow most undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country before Dec. 31, 2011, to immediately gain “registered provisional” status after paying a $500 fine and back taxes, provided they have not committed a felony or three misdemeanors.

They could then apply for permanent resident status in 10 years after paying additional fees. Three years later, they could apply for citizenship, according to the plan summary. The fastest path to full citizenship would take 13 years, according to the legislation, but it could take longer in some cases, Senate staffers said.

The bill will also require the government to implement strict new border-control measures — including up to $7 billion in new surveillance drones, fencing, border guards and workplace tracking systems — before the undocumented immigrants are granted green cards. The bill stipulates that the government must surveil 100 percent of the border and apprehend 90 percent of the people trying to enter illegally in high-risk sectors.

According to the Post, the bill includes provisions to clear the huge waiting list of foreigners who have applied for visas that would allow them to be reunited with relatives in the United States, but going forward it would cut the number of family-based visas and instead “put more emphasis on ‘merit-based’ work skills than on family ties.”

At this point, though, I imagine the precise details don’t matter too much since they’ll be amended to death anyway. The real question is whether we can get anything passed at all. The fate of the almost comically weak gun bill currently working its way through Congress doesn’t provide me with a lot of hope, but immigration is an issue that even a lot of Republicans would genuinely like to see addressed. So maybe Marco Rubio can give them the conservative cover they need to support a comprehensive bill. Stay tuned.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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