I’m against amnesty. There, I said it. Made my position crystal clear. I’m against amnesty if it means granting a clean slate to people with dangerous criminal records, if it means ignoring those who are wading through the difficult process of legal entry, and if it means a complete disregard the rule of law.
The only problem with being against this kind of amnesty is that I can’t find anyone to pick a fight with. I don’t know anyone suggesting an amnesty plan of that sort.
In June the Senate passed Senate Bill 744, a bill which many house Republicans have said is dead on arrival. While that kind of political posturing is part of the game, I think it is time to take a closer look at what the talk radio crowd is calling amnesty.
Senate Bill 744 would immediately allow the vast majority of undocumented workers and their families to come out of the shadows. The next time you see a family of likely undocumented immigrants shopping at Walmart realize that a fender bender in the parking lot could result in detention, deportation, and years of separation. The ability to come out of the shadows is a very big thing for undocumented families.
Senate Bill 744 creates a new status called “Registered Provisional Immigrant” status. It allows an undocumented person to step forward, admit that they are here illegally, volunteer for a criminal background check, and pay fines. After fines are paid and a background check is passed they would get a “Blue Card” which would allow them to work and to travel back and forth across the border legally for six year.
At the end of six years, they can apply for a second Blue Card, take another background check, pay more fines, and then work for another six years.
At the end of 12 years, after two criminal background checks and about $3,500 in fines, they can apply for a Green Card (you guessed it, another criminal background check!)
The Green Card is good for three years and once they get it they can begin the process of applying for citizenship, which will require them to learn English and pass a US History and Civics test that most native born adults probably couldn’t pass.
According to the bill proposed by the Senate, they can only be granted citizenship if two things have already happened. First, we must have secured the Southern border and second, we must have already processed all of those who had been waiting in line legally. If those goals have been met, then and only then can one of today’s undocumented workers receive citizenship? The earliest that this could possibly happen would be 2029.
Let the House tweak the bill if they must. But let your congressman or congresswoman know that this is the moment to do the right thing just like the mid 1960’s when Republicans led the way on the Civil Rights Act, now is the time for them to ignore the fringe and pass a humane bill that we can be proud of.
Next time someone tells you the Senate bill grants amnesty to a nasty bunch of illegals tell them, “Amnesty bamnesty. It ain’t so.”
Go to http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ to let your congressman know that you support common sense immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship like Senate Bill 744.