A bipartisan group of eight United States Senators focus on how to give these11 million undocumented immigrants a chance at earning citizenship. But that plan is contingent on the Obama Administration proving that our nation's borders are secure.
Unlike Congress, President Obama seeks to give the undocumented immigrants an opportunity to earn citizenship if they pass background checks, pay taxes, learn English, pay a penalty, and get in the back of the line of others who are trying to enter the country legally. President Obama also wants to strengthen security at the borders, ramp up the penalties on businesses that knowningly hire undocumented workers, and create a national system that verifies someone's employment status.
The Senate's plan calls for the creation of an agricultural worker program. The two plans agree on tightening border security, establishing a national employment verification system, and providing naturalization for top foreign science and technology students who graduate from American colleges. US Senator David Vitter and Congressman John Fleming have both opposed immigration reform plans thus far. Senator Vitter said on the Senate Floor Jan 28 that he opposes "blanket amnesty" and that "the promise of enforcement as long as we have amnesty is a recipe for failure," referring to the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act.
Vitter went further to state. "This is a marriage of promises of enforcement with leniency or amnesty and history suggests that doesn't work. The enforcement never adequately shows up, the amnesty immediately does, and while this proposal might not be citizenship, it's immediate legal protection and many benefits that flow from that. Rep. Flemming said in a statement Jan. 29 that he will not talk about amnesty for undocumented immigrants until the Obama Administration revamps the visa system and proves that our nation's borders are secure. Meanwhile, some members of the Latino community feel reform can not come soon enough. They're protesting in California, Illinois, and Mexico City for a moratorium on deportations until reform takes place.
Deportations under the Obama Administration have been at an all-time high, with 409,849 undocumented immigrants being deported in fiscal year 2012. According to the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 55 percent of those people were convicted of felons or misdemeanors-double the number removed in 2008. The top three countries people were deported to include Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. In the News Orleans Field Office, the number of people deported remained steady around 14-15,000 since 2008. But, the number of criminals deported has quadrupled to 8,327. On Dec. 21, the Obama Administration issued a new policy that focuses ICE's resources on deporting the most serious criminal offenders. The new policy restricts deportations for undocumented immigrants arrested for minor misdemeanor offenses such as traffic tickets and other petty crimes. President Obama is asking for an immigration reform bill by the end of the year, but believes Congress to come up with a solution by the summer.