U.S. wrestles with bill that would alter face of country

Border Patrol/Gerald L. Nino U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent pat down a Mexican being returned.

A proposed immigration bill now being studied in the U.S. Senate is too strict, according to advocates for illegal immigrants.

But opponents of the bill say the measure will fail to stop illegal immigration and not do what it proposes to do.

The situation in the north is of major concern to expats here because their Costa Rican neighbors and extended families might be affected dramatically and the U.S. culture is bound to undergo major changes.

Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, is in the forefront of opposition. “Americans are tired of hearing endless border security promises without seeing any realistic mechanism for guaranteeing results,” he said in a news release.

He has proposed an amendment that would not allow illegal immigrants to move toward permanent residency until the administration can show that 90 percent of the illegal entries have been stopped.

Advocates complain that the bill outlines an expensive and difficult path for eventual citizenship by illegals who are now in the U.S. There is an initial $500 fee and the would-be resident must pay all back taxes. Those with felony criminal records are not eligible.

Then if the illegal immigrant can speak English and meets income and job qualifications he or she can take the 13-year path to citizenship. Anyone who arrived in the United States after 2011 could not apply.

Advocates in an April press conference complain that these rules were too strict and that perhaps as many as a million of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants would not be able to complete the requirements.

The bill does not really say what will happen in that case.

Some opponents complain that lawmakers have not read the 800-page plus bill. They also say that proposals in the bill to tighten the southern border of the United States are mainly unworkable and expensive. The bill says $3 billion will be provided to do this.

The original copy of the bill can be found HERE!The text is from the Web site of Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat, who is one of the eight senators, the so-called gang of eight, who drew up the bill.

The bill contains faster routes for youngsters who came to the United States illegally when they were under 16 years.  There also is a special provision for agricultural workers.

The bill also calls for a speedy e-verify system so  employers would know if a would-be worker is legal. For years the rule in the U.S. has been that a potential worker would have to submit evidence of legality. But that rule, which involves paperwork, often is overlooked. The e-verify system would be phased in over five years.

Border Patrol/Gerald L. Nino The U.S.-Mexican border with the U.S. on left.

Some advocates for workers said they think that a flood of recently legalized immigrants with the proposed provisional status will displace American citizens from jobs.

If passed, the bill also will eliminate existing applications for legal visas to the United States and replace the system with one that rewards education and talent.

The bill needs 60 votes to pass in the Senate, and a handful of Republican lawmakers say they are supporting the bill. Prospects in the House of Representatives are not as rosy. If representatives pass a bill the differing versions would be made into one bill by a joint committee for a future vote.

Schumer has called for a public discussion of the bill.

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