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U.S. Immigration

United States Immigration column and commentaries

NOV 2006: Hardship waiver of the two year J-1 Residency

APR 2006: Compromise Bill Emerges Despite Senate Bickering

MAR 2006: Immigration Reform: Looking beyond border patrols for answers

MAR 2003: Immigrant Visa Processing of Foreign Nurses

JAN 2003: Asylum and the Child Status Protection Act

DEC 2002: Recalculating Age for purposes of relief

NOV 2002: New relief for "Age-Out" cases

FEB 2002: Update: Child Citizenship Act of 2001

JAN 2002: Tips: Ppreparing your "B" visitor extension requests

DEC 2001: The U.S. economic downturn: How the non-immigant can weather the storm

NOV 2001: Possible immigration consequences of the events of Sep. 11, 2001

APR 2000: Business immigration

MAR 2000: Employment-based adjustment applicants

FEB 2000: INS clarifies status of H1B woker while on leave

JAN 2000: Immediate opening for nurses

DEC 1999: Practical tips in dealing with the US consulate in Manila

NOV 1999: INS Processing delays and how to live with them

OCT 1999: How to maximize your changes of obtaining a B2 tourist visa

SEP 1999: In the aftermath of  245(i) who benefits?

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Compromise Bill Emerges Despite Senate Bickering

By Reuben S. Seguritan

Despite partisan bickering, due to procedural issues, the Senate is poised to consider a compromise immigration bill that includes provisions for legalizing undocumented immigrants.

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, promised to take up the bill as soon as the Senate returns from recess on April 24.

Under the compromise bill, undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for five (5) years or more (a.k.a. long-term undocumented immigrants) will not be required to leave before seeking legalization.

Undocumented immigrants on the path to legalization will be allowed to work for six more years after paying hefty fines, back taxes, learn English and pass rigorous background checks. Only then can they apply for permanent residency. They may eventually be eligible to apply for naturalization after five years as a permanent resident.

The compromise bill grants undocumented immigrants who have been in the US for two to five years (a.k.a. short-term undocumented immigrants) three years to gather documents for applying for a change of status. They would have to go to a border port of entry and reenter as temporary workers.

This is referred to as the “touch base and return” provision because those who are covered already know that they will be readmitted to the US. Short-term undocumented persons will be eligible for permanent residency on their fourth year as temporary workers.

The so-called new arrivals, those who have been in the US for less than two years, on the other hand, would be required to leave under the compromise bill. They would have to apply from their home country for temporary worker visas or legal permanent residency.

Significantly, the compromise bill provides for an increase in the number of employer-based green cards to 450,000 per year. At present employment-based green cards are capped at 290,000 per year.

In addition, the compromise bill proposes an increase in the number of temporary visas for future workers to 325,000.
The compromise bill also contains provisions that aim to seal the border from illegal immigration. It provides for up to 14,000 additional border patrol agents by 2011 over the existing 11,300 agents. It also authorizes unmanned vehicles, cameras and sensors to monitor illegal entry, as well as additional detention facilities for illegal immigrants.

The bottom line at this point is that the Senate has no bill to show for all its apparent efforts at a compromise. Considering that the House stands by its draconian immigration reform bill, it behooves the Senate to draw up a sensible and workable proposal for immigration reform that recognizes the economic and social needs of American society, including the undocumented population.

Editor’s Note: REUBEN S. SEGURITAN has been practicing law for over 30 years. He was former immigration editor and is author of a book on immigrant experiences. He frequently speaks on immigrant issues and for his advocacy efforts he was the recipient of two presidential awards by President Ramos and an award by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas. He previously taught business law and international politics. For further information, you may call him at 212 695 5281 or log on to his website at


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