Sharma Crawford

Comprehensive Immigration Reform…The Time is Now

by Rekha Sharma-Crawford, Esq.

The last time Comprehensive Immigration Reform was on a President’s agenda was in 2006.  George Bush was President. The people were rallying in the streets and Congress was stubbornly resisting any efforts to address immigration as an issue. What a difference an election makes.

With over 80% of the Hispanic vote going to the Democratic President, the Republicans are now ready to take up an issue that is long overdue. One day before the President announced his proposal for Immigration reform, a bipartisan group of eight senators offered their own plan. While the plans each have many similar points they are not identical.

Both plans contemplate a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented individuals in the US, including some 240,000 from India[1]. Under each of the plans, an intermediary status would be created for these individuals that would allow individuals to pass background checks. And pay penalties and fees. The Senate plan would also require persons to learn English, civics, and pay back taxes.

Both plans also contemplate stricter border security measures that would include an entry-exit system to track visitors as they come and go from the US. The President’s plan also contemplates stricter penalties for smuggling individuals, drugs and weapons into the U.S. and for the deportation of criminals in an expedited way. Notwithstanding either plan, it is clear that criminal issues will continue to gain disfavor and deportation as a result of criminal conduct will become more and more difficult to defend.

For those youths who were brought to the US as children by their parents, each of the plans supports a quicker pathway to citizenship. This would expand upon the current program introduced by the President in June last year called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.”

No comprehensive immigration reform can be successful without addressing the backlogs that currently exist in both the family and employment visa systems. Not only do both plans attempt to cut down the delays in uniting families, they also attempt to create greater opportunities for employment and skilled labor. The refocus on employment-based visas is a clear indicator of the US’s recognition that in order to grow the economy, employers and employees must have a way to meet the rising demand for qualified workers. This is also evident in the fact that both plans strive to provide quicker paths to citizenship for agricultural workers.

One key difference in the President’s plan and the Senate proposal, however, is that the President’s plan extends, for the first time, family sponsorship opportunities to same –sex partners.

Neither of these plans is currently law. Nor is it known if Congress will actually be able to come together and put aside their political gamesmanship to finally address immigration reform. The system is broken and many toil under the weight of the current draconian system. The time is now for comprehensive immigration reform that finally brings the United States into the 21st century. The time is now for a common sense approach to the application of the US immigration laws.

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Sharma-Crawford, Attorneys at Law is a Kansas City, Missouri, firm deeply experienced in the complexities of immigration litigation. Whether you are facing criminal or civil litigation in state, federal or immigration court, in Kansas or Missouri – the caring professionals at Sharma-Crawford can help you navigate through the complex legal system. For more information, please call (816) 994-2300 or visit The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements. The information contained in this article is general information and should not be considered legal counsel.

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