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Text of Senate Immigration Reform Bill Released Today

Early this morning, the text of the Senate’s Proposed Reform Bill–The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act–was released.

We rifled through some of its 844 pages and have found some goodies, including the destruction of the nefarious one-year  filing deadline for asylum applications.

In terms of concrete benefits to undocumented immigrants currently in the United States, the proposed bill looks to be a large-scale legalization that is serious about immigrant family unity.

In the outline of the bill, which was released yesterday, it was said that those with 3 or misdemeanor convictions or those who committed certain other crimes would not be eligible to obtain “registered provisional immigration status.” (RPI)

However, the actual text of the proposed bill provides for a waiver of these ineligibility ground:

IN GENERAL.—The Secretary may waive the application of subparagraph (A)(i)(III) or any provision of section 212(a) that is not listed in clause (ii) on behalf of an alien for humanitarian purposes, to ensure family unity, or if such a waiver is otherwise in the public interest.

In other words, many undocumented immigrants who would be ineligible for legalization under the program can still obtain RPI if they have family members here or there are other factors in their favor.

The proposed Senate bill will not be the final law, if reform does in fact become law. This is an important step, however, because it lays out for the first time a detailed and concrete labyrinth of laws that could potentially legalize millions of undocumented immigrants as well as reunite or preserve immigrant families.

There will never be a perfect immigration reform bill given the deeply flawed politics of Washington. Yet this bill is, at least partially, a point in the right direction.

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