Gang Of 8’s Path To Citizenship Is Still A Rocky Road
BENJY SARLIN JANUARY 28, 2013, 12:36 PM 2612
While reformers are excited that a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants is the centerpiece of the Senate’s new bipartisan immigration deal, it’s still unclear just how accessible that path will be for the undocumented population.
Without the proper components, experts warn the Senate plan could be the beginning of a long process to bringing illegal immigrants fully into American society, one that could take not years but decades.
“It’s always been understood to be a process that takes some time,” Marshall Fitz, director of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, told TPM. “But we want to make sure that it’s not a path to citizenship in name only.”
Still, there has been real movement. Republican lawmakers are now openly backing a path to citizenship for a significant number of the 11 million people currently in the country illegally. It’s a sea change from just a few months ago when advocating “self deportation” was considered the safe position within the party and anything more was dismissed as amnesty. And Fitz added that he did not believe the senators who signed on to the package would have done so if they expected an “epic path to citizenship, akin to climbing the top of Mt. Everest” to be in the final agreement.
But a lingering question is whether the new framework, still only a four-page white paper, would send illegal immigrants on a path through the current system for legal immigration, which remains plagued by delays, limited quotas, and rules that put less educated illegal immigrants at a disadvantage compared to immigrants with advanced degrees in high-demand industries.