Last Tuesday, the United States Senate voted “overwhelmingly” to begin a debate on the overhaul of current immigration policy. I love how a word like “overwhelmingly” can be used to describe a vote simply to allow a bill to be debated. So that’s great. Overwhelming bipartisan support to allow a discussion to begin. But where exactly does that leave us in regards to new immigration policy?
The Senate is just now beginning what will be a month-long debate on the issue—with any eventual success there simply being the first step before sending the bill to the House. But the positive is that there is support to at least debate the bill. The majority of policymakers agree that the current system is broken. The difference, as always, comes down to how to fix it. An outline of the current proposal can be found here.
On the Republican side, concern is that the bill won’t provide strong enough border security. More left-leaning groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claim that the current border setup already threatens civil and human rights, and that further bolstering it would only exacerbate the issues.
The second significant debate point is the issue over what government benefits are accorded to illegal immigrants. The new bill would allow for a path to citizenship for even illegal immigrants, albeit an arduous one. A large majority of applicants would be facing a process of at least ten years. Under the current provisions, these immigrants would be classed as “registered provisional immigrants” upon payment of a fine and a successful application. This classification would allow them to travel and work in the United States, while still being ineligible for most government benefits. Only then, after ten years in provisional status, could immigrants seek a green card and the right to permanent residency.
Even when things seem black and white, there’s always grey area. Or rather, one side sees it white, one black. But regardless of where the extremes fall and what may eventually arise as a compromise bill, the fact is that the discussion has begun. And where people are talking, we can hope one day for a resolution.
David Wilson graduated from the University of Texas in 2006. Since then he has gone wherever the wind blows him, living in Europe, China, and the States, and traveling extensively throughout the rest of the world. When he’s not on the move, you can find him obsessing over latte art, playing piano, or trying to bleach his hair in the sunshine. Follow him on Twitter.