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USA:Draft Immigration Law Would Set An 8-year Path To Residency

WASHINGTON –  The White House is  circulating a draft immigration bill that would create a new visa for illegal  immigrants living in the United States and allow them to become legal permanent  residents within eight years, according to a report published online Saturday by  USA Today.

President Barack Obama’s bill would create a “Lawful Prospective Immigrant”  visa for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United  States. The bill includes more security funding and requires business owners to  adopt a system for verifying the immigration status of new hires within four  years, the newspaper said.

USA Today reported that the bill would require that immigrants pass a  criminal background check, submit biometric information and pay fees to qualify  for the new visa. Immigrants who served more than a year in prison for a  criminal conviction or were convicted of three or more crimes and were sentenced  to a total of 90 days in jail would not be eligible. Crimes committed in other  countries that would bar immigrants from legally entering the country would also  be ineligible.

Those immigrants facing deportation would be eligible to apply for the visa,  the newspaper reported. Immigrants would be eligible to apply for a green card  within eight years, if they learn English and U.S. history and government, and  they would later be eligible to become U.S. citizens.

Last month a bipartisan group of senators announced they had agreed on the  general outline of an immigration plan. For his part, Obama has said he would  not submit his own legislation to Congress so long as law makers acted “in a  timely manner.” If they failed, he said, “I will send up a bill based on my  proposal and insist that they vote on it right away.”

Clark Stevens, a White House spokesman, said Saturday that Obama still  supports a bipartisan effort to craft a comprehensive immigration bill. “While  the president has made clear he will move forward if Congress fails to act,  progress continues to be made and the administration has not prepared a final  bill to submit,” he said in a statement.

Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican who has been crafting immigration  legislation, derided the draft bill as described by the newspaper as “half-baked  and seriously flawed” and said it was disappointing because it repeats what he  called failures of past legislation. He also said the White House had erred in  not seeking input from Republican lawmakers.

“If actually proposed, the president’s bill would be dead on arrival in  Congress, leaving us with unsecured borders and a broken legal immigration  system for years to come,” Rubio said in a statement.

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, described  the draft bill as a “very moderate” proposal. While the path to citizenship was  welcomed by Noorani, he said not enough attention was being paid to future  immigration.

“Commonsense immigration reform must include a functioning immigration system  for the future,” Noorani said in a statement. “Reform does not begin and end  with citizenship and enforcement alone.”


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