In April, a bill was introduced in the Senate for comprehensive immigration reform, including providing legal status for undocumented immigrants, among many other changes to the immigration laws. This bill is called the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act.” Throughout April and May, the bill was debated and amended in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and on May 21, the bill was approved by the Judiciary Committee. It was then sent to the full Senate for further debate and amendment, which began on June 11 and continues now. We expect that the full Senate will vote on the bill before the July 4th holiday. If it passes, it will then go to the House of Representatives for further debate and amendment. Remember that it is only when both bodies have agreed to a text that a bill will go to President Obama for his signature, and it is only after the President signs the bill that it will take effect.
Whether the legalization process contemplated in the Senate bill will become law as written remains to be seen. It could become easier or even more difficult. Right now it is most important to realize that nothing has changed yet, and the process described above will take considerable time, at least until the end of the summer. Meanwhile we already have reports of unscrupulous people seeking payment for assistance with applications for legal status. Remember: as of now there is nothing to apply for. We will be providing full information on any new legislation providing for legalization as soon as it becomes available.
Those interested in comprehensive immigration reform, including undocumented immigrants, are encouraged to contact their members of Congress to make their views known, and to become involved in the many organizations that are advocating for legislation that will provide for a fair and workable legalization process.