Hagel Introduces Legislation to Deal with Illegal Immigrants Living in the U.S.
April 26th, 2007 - Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) today introduced “The Immigrant Accountability Act of 2007.” The legislation would create a merit-based point system to deal with those living in the country illegally. Those who receive enough points would be put on a pathway to earn citizenship after 13 years. Under Hagel’s bill, no person here illegally would be able to jump in line ahead of someone who has applied for citizenship legally.
Hagel’s legislation is a compromise intended to be incorporated into the comprehensive immigration reform legislation the Senate will consider in May. The legislation builds on previous immigration reform legislation introduced by Hagel in the last two Congresses.
“It is not in our interest to have 12 million people living here illegally. We must create a system in which those who are contributing to our country, speaking English, and helping build a better America are given a pathway toward earned citizenship, while those who are not contributing to our country can be identified and deported. This legislation creates that kind of responsible system. This is an issue of national security as well as an economic issue. We cannot afford to continue to ignore it,” Hagel said.
To be eligible for the point system under Hagel’s legislation, an illegal immigrant must have been in the country since before January 7, 2004; pass a criminal or national security background check; pay back state and federal income taxes; demonstrate a proficiency in English and U.S. history; register for selective service; and pay a $2000 fine and additional fees. The system is modeled after those used by Canada and Australia.
Attached is a summary of the Immigrant Accountability Act of 2007
This legislation builds on the Hagel/Daschle legislation introduced in January 2004, the Hagel Immigrant Accountability Act of 2005, and the Hagel/Martinez compromise that made passage of the Senate Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act possible in 2006. This legislation embraces the concept from the Hagel/Martinez compromise allowing long-term, employed illegal aliens to stay in the United States if they prove that they are invested and contributing to the United States. Illegal aliens who arrived after January 7, 2004 would have to leave the U.S. or be deported.
Under the Hagel Immigrant Accountability Act, illegal aliens applying for earned adjustment would have to pass criminal and national security background checks; pay back state and federal income taxes; demonstrate English proficiency and knowledge of U.S. history and government; register for the military selective service; and pay a $2,000 fine and additional fees. They would have to wait in the back of the line behind those who have already applied before earning a greencard.
New provisions under the Hagel legislation require illegal aliens to demonstrate they are contributing to the United States to be eligible to earn an eventual path (after 13 years) to American Citizenship. To qualify for a greencard, an individual here illegally must earn points in categories that show specific characteristics that demonstrate investment, contribution and assimilation into the United States. The individual would be required to receive 65% of the available points to qualify for a greencard. (Point table attached.) After the initial application, if at anytime DHS determines that the alien cannot qualify for the program, the alien would have to leave the U.S. or would be deported.
The bill establishes the following point categories:
• Military Service (after meeting initial qualifications for adjustment)
• Advanced English proficiency
• Civic Engagement – significant community service work (religious or secular), a clean criminal record, and on time payment of income taxes for past work
• Business ownership (which employs at least 2 unrelated “legal” workers)
• Home ownership
• Work History (points for each year of work an alien can prove) (Like Hagel/Martinez)
• Education (additional points for all levels of education)
• U.S. Presence (points for length of time in the U.S.) (Like Hagel/Martinez)
· U.S. Citizen/Permanent Resident Spouse or minor child
The range of points is based on the number of years a person has worked in the U.S. (Up to 5 points per year possible.)
An alien may earn minimal points for primary school, additional points for high school or obtaining a GED, or skilled trade license.
A person may earn points for having a U.S. citizen child; additional points may be awarded for a U.S. citizen/legal resident spouse.
The range of points is based on level of proficiency - the more fluent, the more points.
Points may be earned for community service, having no criminal or civil infractions, and on time payment of taxes.
The range of points is based on the number of years a person has lived in the U.S.
(Up to 5 points per year possible.)
Total Possible Points
Specific point values will be determined by regulation.
An alien must earn 65% of available Basic Points to eventually qualify for a green card and citizenship.
Extra Credit Points
Extra points may be awarded to those immigrants who have made exceptional contributions.
U.S. Military Service
Points for being eligible for honorable discharge.
Up to 20
Points awarded if business is sustained for 18 months and alien employs at least 2 non-relative employees.
Up to 10
Points for college degree or advanced degree.
Up to 15
Up to 5
Other Circumstances: There will be factors that we are unable to anticipate at this time. These factors, and the points to assign to them, are at the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security
Up to 20
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Here is the first of two press releases from Chuck Hagel's Senate office today: