An analysis of the proposed inmigrant legislation in the United States Congress

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Universidad Iberoamericana León
Immigration reform in the United States is causing battles in both Houses of the U.S. Congress. The proposal that came out of the House of Representatives in December 2005 is a more repressive reform proposal treating the immigrants without legal entry into the U.S. more as criminals than as undocumented workers. The reform proposal that passed the Senate in May 2006 is less harsh, and also provides routes to legalization for undocumented workers which the House of Representative version does not. The main problem with the proposal for reform that came from the Senate is that in reality, it would be very hard to put into effect. The Department of Homeland Security, which is the parent agency governing immigration matters, is not equipped to deal with the numbers of legalization applications that this proposal would generate. In addition, the last two provisions require that the undocumented workers leave the country, which would not be viable and certainly would not occur. Both the United States’ House of Representatives, and the United States’ Senate, have put forth proposals on how to resolve the problem of undocumented immigration in the United States. Legislation can originate in either the Senate or the House of Representatives, but both Houses of Congress must approve the legislation before it can be implemented. It then goes to the president for his signature, or his veto, depended on the administration’s position. The House of Representatives in December 2005 passed what is known as the Sensenbrenner bill, and sent it to the Senate for approval. The Senate however, passed its own proposal for immigration reform in May 2006, which must then be sent to the House of Representatives for its approval. Both versions of how to solve the immigration dilemma are very different, and in this article, an attempt will be made to describe the major thrusts of each proposed bill. The Bush administration has published its general outline of its priorities in immigration reform. According to a White House press release, the Bush administration’s five objectives for immigration reform are Securing the borders of the United States • Creating a temporary worker program • Making it easier for employers to verify employment eligibility and holding employers accountable for the legal status of their workers • Finding a solution for the millions of illegal immigrants who are already within the United States • Honoring the American tradition of the “melting pot” The Bush White House priorities contain portions that are contained in both the Senate and House bills on immigration reform. It is interesting to note that Bush’s priorities, as a Republican president, have both “guest” worker, (another way of stating the temporary worker issue), and “amnesty” (another term often used for “legalizing” those undocumented workers already present) provisions which are usually associated with the Democratic party, and are notably absent from the Republican-majority House bill. The reason for Bush’s realistic or enlightened view of immigration reform is usually attributed to the fact that he was once governor of the state of Texas which has one of the largest Mexican populations in the United States and shares a border with Mexico. For this reason, he seems to have a better understanding of the immigration problem than most of his Republican cohorts in the House and the Senate who have never dealt directly with the immigration problem.
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