Immigration

Bipartisan Senate Plan Would Let Illegal Immigrants Earn Citizenship in a Decade

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Illustration by Terry Colon for Reason

If you've come to the U.S. illegally, you'll have to wait a decade to earn legal status and 13 years to become a naturalized citizen under a bipartisan immigration reform plan now being drawn up in the Senate, reports The Washington Post

The 10-year wait for a green card for illegal immigrants would help ensure that the existing backlog of more than 4 million people who have applied for visas through legal measures would be processed first.

Democrats have pushed for a faster timeline, arguing that long waits could discourage immigrants from applying and maintain a second-class tier of U.S. residents not fully empowered to participate in society and the workforce. Republicans have argued that it is unfair to grant citizenship to undocumented residents more quickly than to those who have applied legally.

The Post's report files this bit into the Republicans-and-Democrats-disagree-on-the-details part of the article, but it highlights an under-discussed fact: how long and arduous the existing legal immigration process is. (You can get a pretty good sense of how insane the process is from the flow chart in our October 2008 issue.) But apparently the Senate's idea of a solution is to add yet another lengthy, arduous process on top of the old system. Creating a path to citizenship for 11 million people who do not currently have one is worth doing, but it would be nice if, in the midst of all the discussion about immigration reform, we actually talked a little bit about reforming the mess that is our existing immigration system.

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  1. Democrats have pushed for a faster timeline, arguing that long waits could discourage immigrants from applying and maintain a second-class tier of U.S. residents not fully empowered to participate in society and the workforce. Republicans have argued that it is unfair to grant citizenship to undocumented residents more quickly than to those who have applied legally.

    HOW CAN THEY BOTH BE RIGHT?

    1. Uh, by granting legality immediately and citizenship in 13 years?

      Do I get some kind of medal of freedom for coming up with that compromise?

  2. I am not against the idea of integrating unlawful migrants into the US polity, but I am concerned that granting citizenship basically rewards the invaders. How is this any different than the Romans granting citizenship to the Goths just because they crossed the Danube and the Rhine? The children of unlawful migrants born in this land are American citizens, there are efforts to integrate them into the US polity from an early age and where ever they go, they bring the US Constitution with them. But who are the unlawful migrants to the US polity? Mere interlopers, many with closer and deeper loyalties to their homeland than the United States. Should they be allowed time to get their affairs in order before they are directed to leave and return in a lawful manner? Yes. Should they be allowed to seek residency, without leaving the US? Perhaps. But should people who intentionally entered the US with disregard to its laws, processes, and procedures be granted citizenship on some notion of “fairness?” Absolutely not. In my opinion, crossing a polity’s border without the permission of the polity is an act of aggression. To make some special pleading that national/country borders are not the same as property lines is to invite a “might makes right” ideology.

    1. Uh, they are *not* invaders. Invaders come across the border with guns and hurt people – these guys come across the border and trim lawns and clean houses.

      1. Uh, stating that they are *not* invaders simply because not all of them “cross the border with guns and hurt people” is as ridiculous as believing 11+ million illegal aliens have come here to “trim lawns and clean houses.”

        1. Well they certainly didn’t come here to take over the country and/or suck at the welfare teat.

          1. Oh my, heavens, no. Not in whatever neighborhood you’re living in, anyway!

  3. How about just handing out citizenship in cracker jack boxes? You either get a decoder ring or US citizenship.

  4. I’ve got a solution

    Take all the applications to immigrate and stamp them approved.

    Then tell all the illegal immigrants to submit applications and stamp them approved on a first come first served basis.

    There – no “unfair giving the illegals a head-up over those who try to comply with the law” and then ending our illegal immigration problem and cutting the size of the INS all in one blow.

  5. Thanks to you all and may God bless you who have worked so hard to put this bill together in addition to the opposition trying to pull you away; you won! I knew because I had faith in all of you.

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