Here is the view from the Cato Institute.
If you think immigration reform is at an impasse, you’re wrong. Yes, a massive legislation like the bill passed by the Senate last June won’t be voted by the House this year, but this roadblock, strong as it may appear, does not block reform from happening. A bipartisan compromise is already forming.
The main holdup of the Senate bill in the House was the creation of new visas which would legalize unauthorized immigrants and provide them with a path to citizenship — known colloquially as “amnesty.” However, anything resembling legalization has become far too controversial for House Republicans to take up this election year.
Republican hesitancy on legalization does not mean that the party is unwilling to undertake any reforms that could help unauthorized immigrants. As a matter of fact, key members of the House Judiciary committee, which oversees immigration issues, have already endorsed a proposal that would do just that without a legalization or “amnesty.”
The new proposal would alter portions of a 1996 law known as the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). The law requires that any immigrant who stays in the United States illegally for more than six months but less than one year may not leave and reenter for three years. Any immigrant who illegally stays for more than a year may not leave and reenter for 10 years. Also known as the 3/10-year bar, any immigrant who violates it triggers a twenty-year ban from reentering the United States — for any reason.
Some unauthorized immigrants, mainly the spouses and parents of U.S. citizens, can currently apply for a green card. However, they can only do it after leaving the country. Since most unauthorized immigrants have been here for more than a decade and leaving would make the 3/10-year bar apply to them, this legislative catch-22 prevents current law from legalizing many of them.
Moreover, a recent report by the National Foundation for American Policy found that if these bars were removed, more than a third of the 11 to 12 million unauthorized immigrants here could become legal over the next several years without any special rule designed to legalize or “amnesty” unauthorized immigrants.
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