US president Barack Obama is reportedly working on a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to become citizens in eight years. The draft has already drawn Republican ire, dismissing it as backward reward to those who violated US law.
The White House's legislation, which has been circulated to a number of US news outlets, will set down an eight-year plan to legalize and nationalize undocumented immigrants living in the US.
The so-called ‘Lawful Prospective Immigrant’ visa will affect the estimated 11 million immigrants residing illegally in the US.
USA Today, which obtained a copy of the bill, wrote that in order to qualify for the new visa program, immigrants would have to submit biometric information and undergo a criminal background check, as well as paying the necessary fees.
A visa is then granted for four years, during which time the applicant may leave the country for short periods. At the end of this period, the applicant has the opportunity to extend the visa. After eight years, immigrants may apply for legal and permanent residence.
Additionally, immigrants in Federal Custody and those in the process of being deported may also be eligible to apply for the visa.
The legislation would also increase the number of border patrols, and hire 140 new immigration judges to deal with the rising number of illegal residents. A probe would also be set up by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to ascertain whether a border-crossing fee should be implemented to compensate for security costs.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) slammed the draft document, decrying it as a “half-baked” and “seriously flawed” rehash of past legislation.
"It fails to follow through on previously broken promises to secure our borders, [and] creates a special pathway that puts those who broke our immigration laws at an advantage over those who chose to do things the right way and come here legally," Rubio said. "It would actually make our immigration problems worse."
Senator Rubio is currently working on another draft immigration bill alongside a bipartisan group of Representative. They announced last month that they had agreed on a “general outline” for the legislation.
"If actually proposed, the president's bill would be dead on arrival in Congress, leaving us with unsecured borders and a broken legal immigration system for years to come," Rubio argued.
Obama voiced support for the Senator’s legislation, but said that if they could not decide on a finished document among themselves, he would not hesitate to step in.
“If Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away," he said in Las Vegas two weeks ago while describing his new immigration plans.