Secure borders crucial to immigrants’ path to citizenship

The bipartisan “Gang of Eight” announced that they would release the new immigration reform bill to the public on April 16, but the success of the bill relies on the maintenance of a secure Southern border. ABC News reported that  the bill requires “persistent surveillance” of the border between the United States and Mexico and a border security effectiveness rate of 90 percent. If this security is successful, immigrants who arrived before December 31, 2011, and are now living in the U.S. illegally would be eligible to apply for legal status, ultimately beginning a 10-year path to citizenship.

In a summary of the proposed legislation on CNN, bipartisan groups called for $3 billion to increase border security, which includes fortifying fences, hiring a larger staff for patrolling (3,500 new patrol officers, according to ABC) and acquiring surveillance technology – such as drones and drone pilots – from the Department of Defense. In addition, those patrolling the border must keep it under constant surveillance. The summary says that “If an effectiveness rate of 90 percent or higher for all high-risk border sectors is reached during the first five years after the bill is enacted- the ‘Border Security Goal’ has been achieved.”

According to the new bipartisan bill, there are two channels through which immigrants will be able to gain legal citizenship: They can become  registered provisional immigrants (RPIs) or  lawful permanent residents (LPRs). In order to become an RPI, an immigrant must not have arrived in the United States after December 31, 2011, and needs to be free of any felony convictions here or abroad. Furthering the standards for citizenship, if the individual has three misdemeanor convictions, authorities can deny the application. This also includes any infectious diseases or questionable morality, according to CNN.

ABC reported that a Senate delegation led by Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is expected to brief the president on April 16 at the White House.