Associated Press

April 12, 2013

WASHINGTON — A promised path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally may leave out hundreds of thousands of them.

Bipartisan Senate legislation would make legalization and ultimately citizenship available only to those who arrived in the U.S. before Dec. 31, 2011, according to a Senate aide with knowledge of the proposals. Anyone who came after that date would be subject to deportation.

The bill, expected to be introduced next week, also would require applicants to document that they were in the country before the cutoff date, have a clean criminal record and show enough employment or financial stability that they’re likely to stay off welfare, said the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the proposals had not been made public.

Although illegal immigration to the U.S. has been dropping, tens of thousands of people still arrive annually, so the cutoff date alone could exclude a large number of people. The aide said hundreds of thousands could be excluded overall. That came as a disappointment to immigrant rights groups that had been hoping that anyone here as of the date of enactment of the bill could be able to become eligible for citizenship.

“The goal is to deal with the 11 million folks who are here without status, and the wider road that we can create for them to get on that path that they can ultimately get residency and citizenship, the better,” Angela Kelley, vice president for immigration policy at the liberal Center for American Progress, said Friday. “A cutoff date that lops off all of 2012 and whatever part of 2013, that’s going to be at least a couple hundred thousand people. It’s not ideal.”

But Republicans in the eight-member immigration negotiating group have sought strict criteria on legal enforcement and border security as the price for their support for a path to citizenship, which is still opposed by some as amnesty. The aide said that Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who’s working to sell the plan to the right, pushed Democrats in the group for an even earlier cutoff date, while the Democrats proposed Jan. 1, 2013. The date negotiators settled on was a compromise but also an outcome Rubio can tout to conservatives.

Indeed Rubio’s chief of staff, Cesar Conda, took to Twitter this week to describe the bill as tough on illegal immigration.

“Freezes illegal population. No special pathway. No amnesty,” Conda wrote. “Registration for provisional status will not be open-ended and there will be a physical presence requirement barring recent arrivals.”

Rubio is to appear on all five network and cable talk shows this Sunday — as well as Univision and Telemundo — to discuss the legislation. Negotiators are aiming to introduce the bill on Tuesday. Details on the criminal record requirement were still being finalized, but anyone with a felony conviction was likely to be ineligible, the aide said.

It’s impossible to know exactly how many immigrants have arrived illegally in the U.S. since Dec. 31, 2011, because such statistics aren’t collected and the numbers that have been developed aren’t that recent, according to Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center. One study found that some 384,000 immigrants entered illegally in 2009.

Despite their concerns over the cutoff date, immigration advocates emphasized they intend to evaluate the bill in totality and still expect to find much to like. Kelley and others also pointed out that the last time the U.S. enacted a major legalization program — with legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 that legalized close to 3 million people — it included a cutoff date of four years prior to enactment. So by comparison, the proposal in the expected new bill looks good.

Advocates also will be looking to see how much will be charged to immigrants here illegally in fees and fines before they can become citizens and what other requirements are imposed, such as English proficiency.

The legislation would put millions here illegally on a 13-year path to citizenship, while also toughening border security requirements, mandating that all employers check the legal status of workers, and allowing tens of thousands of new high- and low-skilled workers into the country with new visa programs. The legislation is expected to include a new emphasis on merit-based immigration over family ties.

3 Comments on this post.

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  • Delia
    13 April 2013 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    This is funny , politician are getting dumber every hour. How can you deport anyone with the border open as i type. Who’s watching when Obammer put the border patrol on furlough . Damn any kinderrgarten can figure this out . Illegals will be right back in after getting drop at the borders since border are open wide.

  • Common Sense
    14 April 2013 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    This legislation is laughable. How can they tell the difference between the people that cross the border before dec 31, 2011 and the people that cross the border six months ago. They should all be like a foreign diplomat status. If a diplomats wife gave birth here in the US, the baby will not be US citizen unless both parents are US citizens. Lets face it, America is in debt and cannot afford to support 11 million illegal immigrants with free healthcare and social security benefits once they become US citizens. They didn’t contribute anything to society. In my opinion, there are more than 11 illegal immigrants and this number came from Pew Hispanic Research lol. I would say there are about 50-60 million illegals.

  • noz
    14 April 2013 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    the INS reform laws should be based on hard evidences to prove what these illegal aliens are claiming, they were in the USA on such dates specified by the law. the reform law written must be absolute, no authentic documents to prove identity equals to deportations. the illegal alien advocators language are intimidations to the conservative lawmaker politicians, the lefties are always in agreement not good and right for the country. these illegal alien liberal advocators consistently are in the face of the conservative lawmaker politicians, dictating to just give away amnesty to illegal aliens, problem solved. the poorest border securities is one of the root of the problem, combined with the lawmaker politicians on both sides of the aisles not enforcing the INS laws already in the book, looking the other way. obama in the past, gave orders to ICE not to arrest/imprison illegal aliens, a very repulsive, chaotic actions resulted to getting reelected. obama denied he was involved in freeing jailed illegal aliens for deportations due to sequestration. therefore, if the government cannot do their job to seal the border at 120%, the written reform law must include strict absolute deportations to illegal aliens caught not only doing minor to hard crimes, but illegal aliens found at work, doing businesses like banking, utility, rental bills to hospitalizations, this is not rounding up illegal aliens, but immediate actions, the same way in arresting criminals, these are already in the INS laws not being enforced. the reform law must add absolute deportations of illegal aliens freely doing illegal activities, violations of rights belonging solely to americans/legal residents. only the toughest INS reform law can solve illegal immigration, anything short like superficial, artificial, unclear, full of loopholes will create much worst outcome out of control illegal immigration.