Immigration bill: How would reform measure affect those in deportation proceedings?
What would the immigration reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate yesterday mean for undocumented immigrants who are already in deportation proceedings -- such as those featured in our cover story, "Out of the Shadows"?
According to the office of Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, who is one of the "Gang of Eight," those who are in the process of deportation would be able to apply for the same temporary legal status as other immigrants as long as they meet the criteria.
The bill would create a thirteen-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. on or before December 31, 2011 and who meet eligibility criteria. Several things could make a person ineligible: Those who have been convicted of a felony, three or more misdemeanors or a host of other crimes (the full list is below) would not qualify to become a "registered provisional immigrant," or RPI.
After ten years as a registered provisional immigrant, a person who paid a series of fines and fees, passed a background check and proved that he or she held a job, among other requirements, could apply to become a legal permanent resident. After three more years and another round of fees, fines and requirements, that person could apply for citizenship.
Senator Michael Bennet.
Bennet spokesman Adam Bozzi sends us this information about how the bill would apply to those already in deportation proceedings -- and those who've already been deported:
"Individuals with removal orders will be permitted to apply for RPI status, as will aliens currently in removal proceedings. To qualify, those individuals must complete the exact same eligibility criteria as individuals not in proceedings," he writes in an e-mail.
"Individuals outside of the United States who were previously here before December 31, 2011 and were deported for non-criminal reasons can apply to re-enter the United States in RPI status if they are the spouse of or parent of...a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident, or are a childhood arrival who is eligible for the DREAM Act."
The list of factors that would make a person ineligible for registered provisional immigrant status are long. Here it is, courtesy of Bozzi:
Criminal bars to RPI eligibility include:
- Any felony (other than state or local status-based or immigration offenses);
- An aggravated felony under INA §101(a)(43);
- Three or more misdemeanors (other than minor traffic offenses or state/local status-based or immigration offenses) where conviction occurred on different dates;
- Conviction or participation in a criminal street gang;
- Foreign offenses (except purely political offenses) that would render the person inadmissible or deportable if committed in the U.S., with certain exceptions; and
- Unlawful voting.
Grounds of inadmissibility for RPI applicants include:
- Crimes involving moral turpitude;
- Controlled substance violations;
- Two or more criminal convictions;
- Drug trafficking;
- Prostitution and procuring a prostitute;
- Criminal activity where the person has asserted immunity;
- Violators of religious freedom;
- Human trafficking;
- Money laundering;
- National security grounds, including espionage;
- Terrorists and terrorist activities;
- Nazis and members of a totalitarian party;
- Child abductors;
- A misrepresentation related to RPI application;
- Immigrant smugglers;
- Draft evaders;
- Habitual drunk drivers;
- Criminal street gang participants;
- Violating a protection order;
- Child abuse, child neglect or child abandonment;
- Enhanced passport trafficking and immigration document fraud offenses; and
- Failure to comply with a request for biometrics.
So what do local leaders and advocates think of the bill?
Continue for local reaction to the bill.