US lawmakers present bipartisan immigration reform bill

Washington, May 23 (EFE).- Republican Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar and her Democratic colleague Veronica Escobar on Tuesday presented an immigration reform bill including methods to regularize the immigration status of the more than 11 million undocumented foreigners living in the United States.

The bill, presented in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, also includes more funding for border security and ways to strengthen it along with reforms to the way in which people may request asylum in the US.

Salazar, who represents Florida’s 27th congressional district, said that the legislative package is “historic” given that two lawmakers are deciding to work on one of the most polarizing issues facing the country.

The bill, she said, provides “dignity” for undocumented migrants.

Under the proposal, people who are in an irregular immigration situation in the US, who have lived for at least five years in this country and have no criminal record may enter a program offering them permission to work and travel for seven years.

During that period, they will have to pay a sum of $5,000 in “restitution” to the US government and those funds, Salazar said, will be used to provide border security and to compensate US citizens who claim that they have lost their jobs to undocumented migrants.

During the “Dignity Status” program’s seven-year period, the migrants will not be able to access social services or programs, Salazar said, and – after the seven years have elapsed – they will have to wait another five years to request US citizenship.

The bill also provides a path to citizenship for people who are in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – also known as “Dreamers” – and beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

Regarding the situation on the southern border, the bill proposes the creation of “humanitarian campuses” where people requesting US asylum can be detained and where they will be able to wait until an asylum official resolves their cases within 60 days.

In turn, it also includes more funding for border security, including some $10 billion to expand and improve entry ports or border crossing locations.

The bill comes two weeks after the Democratic Joe Biden administration allowed the coronavirus health emergency measure called Title 42 to expire, a measure which had allowed US authorities to quickly expel undocumented migrants and imposed greater restrictions on access to asylum for migrants coming from Mexico.

EFE aaca/pamp/bp

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