Now that the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has voted the comprehensive immigration reform bill out of Committee and to the floor of the Senate, it remains to be seen how the bill will fare among the general membership of the Senate.
The current bill has many challenging aspects to it, and I fear that it may become weaker as many amendments are heard and voted upon. One of the big stumbling blocks already is the cost to the immigrant to just begin the process. They would be required to pay a $500 fine, an application fee of several hundred dollars, and be assessed all back unpaid payroll taxes. That could amount to $2,000 or more. How does a family with two or three eligible applicants get the money needed for such costs?
Much emphasis is being put on border security, but recall that 40% of all unauthorized persons in our country came through an international airport on a visa, not across the northern or southern border. How can our visa tracking system be improved to close this gap?
There are fears that introducing several "triggers" into the bill will stretch out the implementation time by several more years. That approach is one already in play in the House.
It is the hope and prayer of many of us that the Senate version will withstand burdensome amendments for unauthorized persons, and that this bill will at long last signal a new moment in the lives of our brothers and sisters who have desired to come out of the shadows and become members of our society.