Bush Pushes for Sweeping Immigration Reform

President Bush proposed on Wednesday changes to the U.S. Immigration law that will have a dramatic affect on foreigners not only in the U.S. but throughout the world. The President recognized that the U.S. is a nation built by immigrants and that today’s U.S. immigration laws are too harsh and cumbersome. He proposed a change in the law that will be more compassionate to foreign workers and serve the economic needs of the U.S.

Bush’s proposal will create a category to allow willing foreign workers to come to the U.S. to fill the jobs American workers are not filling. He stressed that he wants the new category to be clear, efficient and to operate quickly and simply. The plan would allow U.S employers to sponsor foreign workers for a period of three years once the employer has shown there are no U.S. workers who wish to fill the position. These workers will be issued worker cards to allow them to travel to and from the U.S without fear of being denied reentry into the U.S.

U.S immigration law today only allows for workers who are meeting a seasonal need or in specialty occupations (engineers, accountants, physical therapists, etc.) to come to the U.S. to work temporarily. The new law would allow thousands of new occupations to be sponsored. These would include bookkeepers, caregivers, domestic help, gardeners, cooks, secretaries, carpenters, and sales staff to name a few. This is a spectacular improvement from the current immigration situation.

The new law would also allow these workers to apply for the green card while in the U.S. Undocumented workers in the U.S. would also be allowed to change to this new category by paying a nominal fee. They would receive the same work authorization and the ability to travel freely in and out of the U.S. For many undocumented workers today, exiting the U.S is not an option because the current law would bar them from returning from 3 or 10 years. The President recognized that the new program will allow many undocumented workers to become documented and allow law enforcement to be better able to focus on the true terrorist threat to the country. The Department of Homeland Security will expend less resources on trying to deport undocumented workers who will now have this mechanism to become documented.

This new proposed law is very promising. In addition to the new worker category, the President feels the visa numbers available for green cards are too low. He wants the numbers increased. As so many Filipinos know, the waiting time for a green card can span decades. The President does not want foreign workers to be delayed and wants an easy process. There is still much that needs to be done. The President will work closely with Congress to draft the new law. Some anticipate Congress will write the new law within two months for the President to sign. Too soon is not soon enough to grant so many relief and to allow many others to come to the U.S. to help to continue to build the country. Much is still unclear and could spell the difference between a proposal that works and one that is more for show. Reeves & Associates (R&A) is carefully tracking the situation. As more information becomes available, R&A is committed to publishing articles regarding any developments and what their impact will be on immigrants.