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Immigration reform to pose limits on path to citizenship

One of the biggest parts of the immigration reform that has been in talks for quite some time is the move to grant permanent residency and citizenship to individuals who entered the country without the legal permission to do so. Anyone who has been following immigration news in Lancaster County knows that a group of eight senators, four from both parties, have been working to create an immigration bill that would provide tremendous reform to the immigration system. The bill that they have been crafting is set to be unveiled soon, but immigration advocates are disappointed about one of the provisions.

One of the most contentious parts of the bill would limit the pathway to citizenship to anyone who was not in the country by Dec. 31, 2011. In addition, the program would be a 13-year naturalization process, much longer than the typical five years it takes for anyone with the legal permission to immigrate. Though the bill has been largely agreed upon by the eight senators, it still faces an uphill battle before it becomes law.

There are some people who worry that the bill does not do enough to protect American borders. Although the bill also bumps up border security, it is unclear exactly what that would entail and whether it will appeal to a sufficient number of lawmakers.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, there are concerns that the December 2011 date would mean that hundreds of thousands of people will be prevented from naturalizing with the 11 million other immigrants who would become eligible under the reformed law.

It remains to be seen what support this bill will receive and whether it will ever become law.

Source: The Associated Press, "New immigration legislation could block hundreds of thousands from citizenship," April 12, 2013

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