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Immigration reform 101: How would Senate plan actually work?

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The actual importance of this commission is unclear, as we’ll see in a moment.

Fourth, this approach to the problem would require individuals who are currently here illegally to register with the government while the security measures are being put in place. Those who pass a background check designed to weed out actual criminals, and who pay a fine and settle all back taxes, would earn a probationary legal status. 

Again, this would occur simultaneously with all the more-drones-along-the-Rio-Grande stuff. There’s been some confusion about that.

Fifth, citizenship! After the enforcement measures have been completed, those immigrants on probationary legal status could stand in the back of the line to get a green card and eventual US citizenship. They would not earn these coveted items until everyone who has played by the rules and is already legally waiting has been taken care of.

“Our purpose is to ensure that no one who has violated America’s immigration laws will receive preferential treatment as they relate to those individuals who have complied with the law,” states the proposal.

(Hmm. Haven’t they already received preferential treatment via the probationary legal status thing? What’s the difference between that and a green card? Isn’t legal status, probationary or not, what most illegal immigrants really want? Those are questions the plan’s proponents have yet to address.)

Now, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and some other Republicans are saying that the border commission plays a key role here, and that no current illegal immigrant will be able to emerge from probationary status until the panel says the border is secure. That’s unacceptable to many Democrats, who worry that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) and others will simply refuse to issue that certification, blocking progress for the foreseeable future.

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