Congress takes on illegal immigration

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

There are vulnerable gaps in the US border and not enough manpower to keep an eye on all of it.

One of the trickiest problems that both Republican and Democratic leaders have dealt with for decades, is the issue of illegal immigration. On Thursday, Republican leaders from the House of Representatives in Congress proposed a limited path to legal status for those immigrants already here illegally. Democrats believe it could ease the way for a major deal between both parties.

See, if someone who wasn’t born in the United States wants to live here longer than a few months, there’s legal rules and paperwork involved. While some folks work here temporarily with a special VISA card, it’s tough for those who want to become full citizens.

There’s also a limit on how many legal immigrants can come each year, so some people just decide to ignore the rules altogether and immigrate illegally. These individuals figure out ways to slip past our border and keep a low profile, often working with employers who look the other way rather than checking their citizenship.

Now, there’s an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in America. About 60% of them are from Mexico, 20% are from Latin American countries (especially Central America), and the rest are mainly from Asia, Europe, Canada, and Africa.

The Republican leadership doesn’t just want to give illegal immigrants a special path to citizenship, however, without first making sure they pass some basic requirements.

Basically, they’re willing to legalize the immigrants living here illegally if they pay fines and taxes they’ve skipped out on, pass background checks, learn to speak English, support themselves financially, and understand US civics (basic facts about American government and history). They’d also like to beef up security on the US border and have a zero tolerance policy for new illegal immigrants who get caught. Democrats tend to be less restrictive with their solutions for illegal immigration, but they do share common ground with Republicans, especially on issues like background checks, paying back taxes, learning English, and securing the borders.

Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat who’s a big supporter of immigration law, is hopeful that a deal can be reached now. He said, “While these standards are certainly not everything we would agree with, they leave a real possibility that Democrats and Republicans, in both the House and Senate, can in some way come together and pass immigration reform that both sides can accept. It is a long, hard road but the door is open.”

Featured image courtesy of z2amiller on Wikipedia.