At a recent meeting with leaders of some local Filipino congregations, I had the opportunity to discuss the prospects of immigration reform and the possibility of an amnesty bill. Each leader expressed the hope that something would happen soon as so many of their members come to them each week lamenting the fact that they cannot work, obtain social security numbers or even drive. As the meeting ended one pastor came to me and said all we can do is hope and pray. It appears that his prayers have been heard as Congress is set to reconvene and address the immigration issue.
In a recent article posted to CNN.com the likelihood of immigration reform was pressed as being "imminent." The article explained that conclusion by stating that President Bush has always been an advocate for increased immigration reform and has led the way for this possibility at, according to the writer, "great political risk." The Article also states that as a result of the recent elections the Congress has shifted its collective immigration attitude to a more "realistic" approach.
Realistic implies that with around 12 million undocumented aliens in the U.S., most of whom are working daily and promoting growth in the U.S. economy, that it is time to do something that will allow these important individuals to come out of the shadows and be accountable. This new attitude towards addressing this common problem would provide a path to legal status with all of its inherent benefits as long as the applicants for such are of good moral character.
As we wait for the Congress to act there is more than just hope that prospective applicants for this amnesty might do at this time in order to take advantage of any bill that does clear the Congress in the future. A wise prospective applicant would prepare now so as to be one of the first in line when reform does occur. Based upon some of the more prominent suggested changes to immigration here are a few steps for preparing your place in line.
The one thing that all suggested immigration changes have in common is that this bill should not be a blanket amnesty provision. Legal status will not be given to anyone just because they are here and are applying. In fact, most proposed changes include elements of good moral character, ability to speak and understand English and familiarity with U.S. civics and history. For most Pinoy's these requirements are not an issue.
Additional requirements in the most prominent proposed immigration bills are basically threefold.
First, physical presence of certain duration will be required. An applicant will have to prove that he or she has physically resided in the U.S. for a certain amount of time. In most of the proposed changes 3 to 5 years of life in the U.S. most be proven by the submission of supporting documentation. As a prospective beneficiary of any immigration changes it would behoove you to begin gathering documentation that will prove your have been living in the U.S.
Documents such as medical bills, lease agreements, birth of children, taxes, DMV printouts and similar type documentation will be required. It is likely that affidavits from witness to your physical presence will be allowed but they will be considered secondary evidence. At this time a prudent individual would begin gathering this type of documentation.
Second, the likely amnesty will take the form of a worker or employment-based bill. Merely living in the U.S. or having children who are U.S. citizens will not be enough. Employers will drive this bill so it is important to have your employer ready to petition for you when the time comes. Speak with him or her; let them know that you will need their assistance.
Third, children under the age of 21 and spouses will also benefit under the proposed bills. Get their information ready as well.
Immigration reform is coming and the proposed changes will be subject to a numerical limit for each year and the prudent applicant will begin putting his or her information together now while forming a relationship with a compete tent immigration attorney in order to assure his her place in line. Start now and benefit in 2007.