Friday, February 8, 2008

Narrowed Presidential Field Suggests Change is Coming for Country's Undocumented Immigrants

The suspension of Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign on Thursday brings hope for many of the country's undocumented immigrants. Each of the three remaining frontrunning candidates, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), have openly campaigned for legislation that would provide an avenue for undocumentad immigrants to obtain legal status. States with large immigrant populations, such as Texas and Florida, can expect to be immediately impacted. Current laws establish strict time bars that leave many undocumented immigrants no realistic path to legal residency.

The voting record of the remaining viable candidates indicates change is coming. Each candidate voted for the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 that would have permitted:
(i) illegal immigrants who have resided in the United States for more than five years to apply for citizenship by paying fines and back taxes, and (ii) illegal immigrants who have resided in the United States for two to five years to stay in the country without fear of deportation, provided after three years they left the United States applied for citizenship at border check points. The Act would have required those in the country for less than two years to return to their original nations. The Bill, however, died on January 3, 2007 with the end of the 109th Congress.

The next legislative attempt to address the status of undocumented immigrants came in the form of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007. This Bill proposed a a new "Z visa" to be given to everyone living in the United States illegally on January 1, 2007. The Z visa would give the previously undocumented immigrant the legal right to remain in the United States for the rest of their life. After eight years of holding the Z visa, the immigrant would be eligible for a United States Permanent Resident Card (i.e., "green card") after paying a $2000 fine and back taxes. Five years later, the immigrant would be elgible for citizenship. It too died.

Sen. John McCain - Immigration Reform [JohnMcCain.com]
Sen. Hillary Clinton - Reforming Our Immigration System [HillaryClinton.com]
Barack Obama - Plan for Immigration [BarackObama.com]

*THE ATTORNEYS AT BERTOLINO LLP ARE CONSTANTLY MONITORING LEGISLATIVE AND POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS REGARDING IMMIGRATION REFORMS THAT MAY IMPACT THEIR CLIENTS.*

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