(L-R) Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) attend a news conference on comprehensive immigration reform at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 28, 2013 (Photo : Reuters)
Undocumented immigrants will need to wait a decade to get a green card, but could be eligible for citizenship three years after that, if a comprehensive immigration reform deal proposed by the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight" is passed.
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"Taken together, the two waiting periods would provide the nation's illegal immigrants with a path to United States citizenship in 13 years, matching the draft of a plan by President Obama to offer full participation in American democracy to millions who are living in fear of deportation," the New York Times writes.
In President Obama's plan, now waiting in the wings for the Senate to puts its proposal forth, the wait between obtaining a green card and gaining citizenship is five years, so that transition would become faster. But the wait for a green card grows from 8 years to 10 years in a bid to appease Republicans, who are afraid that lenient measures will encourage more undocumented immigration.
This way, Republicans can still say they pushed for a longer waiting period, while Democrats can say they shortened the wait for a green card, in a move that will appease any constituents on either side of the issue, as long as they haven't read any previous proposals.
Republicans are loath to approve any immigration deal that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain citizenship faster than legal immigrants. While many Republicans are hoping to lengthen the process for the undocumented, Democrats would prefer to shorten it for legal immigrants, thus making the process easier for legal immigrants but not too onerous for the undocumented.
During the wait for a green card, the bill would require undocumented immigrants who hope to become citizens to pay back taxes for all years they have been in the United States, pay a fine and learn English. They would not be eligible for federal benefits like food stamps in the meantime.
The Senate bill is taking shape, and both sides hope to have an agreement in place by the end of the month, though mid-April is more likely.