AILA on Senate's Tentative Bipartisan Compromise on CIR

April 6, 2006

George Tzamaras
(202) 216-2410

WASHINGTON, DC--April 6-- Jeanne Butterfield, Executive Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), issued the following statement in response to the reported bi-partisan compromise on comprehensive immigration reform reached by a coalition of Senators.

We are pleased to learn that a group of leaders in the Senate is striving to overcome partisan divisions and reach a compromise agreement on historic immigration reform legislation. AILA has been a strong supporter of the earned legalization provision that passed by a 12-6 vote out of the Judiciary Committee and that has been the subject of Senate Floor debate over the last week.

We recognize, however, that some compromise on these provisions was required to move the Senate beyond the current partisan impasse and we commend this bipartisan group of Senators for pushing the process forward.

While details of the compromise have yet to be finalized, we understand that it divides the current undocumented population into the following three categories, based on their period of residence in the United States:

  • Those individuals who have been here and working for more than 5 years would be eligible to embark immediately on a path to earned permanent residence and ultimately citizenship. That path would involve a 6-8 year prospective work requirement, a clean record, English language study, and the payment of significant fines and back taxes.
  • The second category of undocumented individuals would be those who arrived less than 5 years ago but before January 7, 2004. This group would be required to pay significant fines and, within three years, would be required to leave the country and reenter in a temporary status. Upon reentry, these individuals would have full job portability and could apply for permanent resident status after the first category of undocumented workers completed their processing.
  • The final group of undocumented workers, those who arrived after January 7, 2004, would be required to leave the country, but they would be permitted to apply for the new temporary worker program subject to the numerical limitations.

Although we believe this compromise has the potential to bridge the divide in how to deal with the current undocumented population, we believe that no deal can be finalized unless and until there is agreement that the compromise will be protected from damaging amendments on the Senate Floor. There must also be agreement that the compromise will be protected through any House/Senate conference committee. We believe the best way to ensure that is for the Senate Leadership to agree that the entire Senate Judiciary Committee will compose the Senate side of any conference committee.

Notwithstanding our strong support for this compromise, we note that other provisions in the legislation directed at the rights and liberties of both documented and undocumented immigrants remain of significant concern. We will continue to work with Members in both chambers to remove or ameliorate those harmful measures as the process continues to advance.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 06040669.