New rules for immigrants surface as Senate comes to reform agreement

An immigration breakthrough on April 11 could change the lives of undocumented immigrants in the United States, especially those in the workforce. While four Republican and four Democratic senators agreed on elements of a bill that would put immigrants living in the country illegally on a path to citizenship, this new legislation could prevent hundreds of thousands of people from ever becoming citizens.

The bill expected to be unveiled next week would prevent anyone who arrived in the U.S. after December 31, 2011, from applying for legal status and ultimately citizenship, according to the Associated Press (AP). It also would require applicants to provide documentation that they were in the country before December 31, 2011, have  clean criminal records, and enough financial stability or proof of secure employment to vouch that they will not require welfare.

The Washington Post noted that this cutoff date could exclude many immigrants. This would come as a disappointment to members of immigrants rights groups who hoped that anyone in the U.S. as of the bill’s enactment date would be deemed eligible for citizenship.

However, after months of negotiations in the bipartisan group “Gang of Eight,” there are no more plans to continue discussing other issues, and drafts of the bill are in the hands of Senate aids. The new bill is set to be released on April 11, according to AP.

“All issues that rise to the member level have been dealt with,” Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement to AP. “All that is left is the drafting.”

Issues may be resolved in the Senate, but legislation is preparing to deal with public opinion and mixed emotions upon the release of the bill. In the past two days, deals were in the works for a new farm-worker program and visas for high-tech workers.