Yahoo News invited readers to react to the immigration plan unveiled by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Here are excerpts from thoughts they shared on Monday.
Bipartisan amnesty blueprint heavy on money but light on timelines: Having gone through the immigration process myself, I can appreciate the fears and uncertainties associated with living in a country that takes a long time to adjudicate an applicant's fitness to stay. Another worrisome issue is the steep cost associated with becoming a citizen. The latest U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service G-1055 fee schedule shows that filing fees for common applications start at $300. Other forms carry $500 and even higher price tags. Filing appeals is another expense some would-be immigrants must bear.
Although the senators are vague on the actual dollar figures in their blueprint, I question the reality of having illegal immigrants pay high filing fees on top of mandatory fines for breaking federal law in the first place. It is also questionable how the senators will assess the back taxes owed by this group, which are going to be another hurdle for those who would become legalized.
Then there is the condition of border security. As noted by the senators, "a commission comprised of governors, attorneys general, and community leaders living along the Southwest border" will be in charge of certifying satisfactory federal border security measures before the undocumented can start the green card process. I foresee infighting and partisan bickering among the various officials and commission members, which will create a sub-class in the American immigration system: limbo immigrants. Not in the process of achieving a green card but also no longer technically as illegal as the undocumented immigrants who manage to still penetrate the borders, their future legal status remains questionable.
-- Sylvia Cochran, Los Angeles
Immigration reform shouldn't be rushed just to get votes: My brother married a Hispanic gal, his sweetheart from high school, and they are expecting their first child. We spent Christmas with them and extended family in El Paso, Texas, where I was raised. Out in Georgia, my wife's best friend in town is a teacher from Mexico with a green card. A Hispanic colleague of mine from the college and a fellow Sunday School teacher became a citizen just two months ago, along with his family.
I've asked them what they think about politics and Hispanics, and what they feel about some of the same elements in those proposals, many of which have been proposed before.
Surprisingly, most have a dim view of any amnesty either because they were born in the United States and were citizens through legal means or are waiting in line, metaphorically speaking, to become citizens. They believe people waiting to become citizens should follow the rules and wait their turn. They believe in better border security as well. They want to be treated like anyone else.
What they don't want is to be treated differently than everyone else. They have no more desire to be pulled over and forced to show identification, or prove their citizenship based upon their looks, any more than some white or black resident of Arizona or Alabama does. If Republicans want Hispanic votes, maybe that's what they need to reform.
-- John A. Tures, LaGrange, Ga.
***In immigration debate, demographics and principles don't lie: The biggest sticking point in the argument over the new immigration reforms proposed by a bipartisan group of senators will be the "path to citizenship."
Growing up in Southern California and living here in San Diego County, I have personally known many families whom this new approach would have helped, and who in turn would have become part of the system: new taxpayers. Current estimates put the undocumented population in this country at around 11 million people. Or 11 million new taxpayers.
We are a nation of immigrants. Our nation literally would not exist were it not for the immigration of a group of people setting out for better opportunity. Not only does providing a path to citizenship make sense from the logistical standpoint of better dealing with the millions of undocumented people already here -- without the prohibitively expensive option of deporting them -- it satisfies out ethical obligation to our American principles of rewarding those who want to become part of contributors to American success.
-- James Schlarmann, San Diego
***Immigration proposal lacks timeframe, leave ambiguity: The plan calls for illegal immigrants to pay a fine before applying for temporary residency or a green card, and it's a possible deterrent in the process of gaining a green card. The proposed blueprint also calls for a commission of southwestern states to inform the federal government when it thinks that border monitoring and the tracking of temporary workers has reached an acceptable level in their communities. No green cards can be issued until the commission gives a green light.
The timeframe for that recommendation has been left up in the air. That means that rather than moving the processing for green cards along at a faster rate, there remains a lot of ambiguity regarding when people will being to be allowed to sign up for the program.
However, a less-than-perfect amnesty plan is still better than no plan, and given that there hasn't been any significant political reform on the issue since 1986, a bipartisan plan that recognizes and eventually generates tax revenue from residents living in the United States is a step in the right direction.
-- Shawn Humphrey, Germantown, Md.
Immigration reform plan a masterpiece of bipartisanship: In an example of the delicate bipartisan balance, [the plan] creates a valid path to citizenship for undocumented citizens, while emphasizing that no one who arrived illegally will receive a green card before anyone who followed proper channels. There they are, liberal and conservative concepts complimenting one another, enhancing the effectiveness of the other, sharpening the focus.
It's refreshing. It's also a relief to see that congressional give-and-take could be more of a coelacanth than a dodo, in that it's not quite dead yet.
The proposal isn't perfect, but "perfection" takes us right back to winners and losers rather than getting it done. It's new and innovative in a way that can only happen when concerns are addressed across the political spectrum, and ideas are respected regardless of their party of origin.
-- Isa-Lee Wolf, Chicago
Bipartisan immigration plan best that can be hoped for: The devil, as the saying goes, will be in the details of actual legislation and how it is shaped in Congress as debate and hearings occur.
My only caveat is that there should not be so much a path to citizenship as there should be a path to legal residence. While the financial sanctions that would be imposed on illegal immigrants would negate the accusations by some of the proposal being "amnesty," one real way to discourage illegal immigration is to include a provision that anyone who crosses the border illegally as an adult, no matter what eventually happens, should not be made a citizen of the United States -- ever.
People who immigrate to the United States illegally have already proven they have disrespect for the country and its laws. There are too many native-born Americans who have that attitude as it is and more do not need to be added.
-- Mark Whittington, Houston