Five Interesting Points From The Immigration Reform Blueprint
A migrant farm worker from Mexico harvests organic spinach.
John Moore
January 28, 2013

The so-called Gang of Eight, a bi-partisan group of lawmakers, unveiled their blueprint for immigration reform on Monday. The five-page draft comes a day before President Obama is expected to outline his own proposals for immigration reform in Las Vegas.

Our series “Broken Borders” breaks down all the major issues: pathway for citizenship for 11 million, the gang of eight, temporary worker visas, border security and the Latino Vote. Read it now

The draft is a compromise. There’s a pathway for the 11 million undocumented immigrants to gain citizenship, a must for Democrats. But many of those immigrants would be placed in a ‘probationary’ status. They would only be considered for a green card after the blueprint's proposed enforcement measures are met. From The New York Times:

Among the plan’s new proposals is the creation of a commission of governors, law enforcement officials and community leaders from border states that would assess when border security measures had been completed.

Here's five interesting points from the blueprint that will drive the national debate for weeks to come.

1) When will our borders be ‘secure’ enough to begin the pathway for the 11 million undocumented immigrants?

From the blueprint:

“To fulfill the basic governmental function of securing our borders, we will continue the increased efforts of the Border Patrol by providing them with the latest technology, infrastructure, and personnel needed to prevent, detect, and apprehend every unauthorized entrant.”

What's happening now:

Is a ‘secure border’ possible?

The United States already spends more on border and port patrol and security than drug enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI combined.

What's happening with drones along the border?

The border patrol's successes have been questioned

Border patrol shootings are going unresolved

2) DREAMers and DACA applicants may have an easier ride.

From the blueprint:

“Our legislation also recognizes that the circumstances and the conduct of people without lawful status are not the same, and cannot be addressed identically. Individuals who entered the United States as minor children did not knowingly choose to violate any immigration laws. Consequently, under our proposal these individuals will not face the same requirements as other individuals in order to earn a path to citizenship.”

What’s happening now:

New federal guidance may inform the debate over whether these DACA recipients can get driver's licenses in some states.

Jan Brewer's executive order banning Arizona DACA applicants from receiving driver's licenses is prompting legal debate.

3) Will immigrants need to pass an English test to become citizens?

From the blueprint:

Once the enforcement measures have been completed, individuals with probationary legal status will be required to go to the back of the line of prospective immigrants, pass an additional background check, pay taxes, learn English and civics, demonstrate a history of work in the United States, and current employment, among other requirements, in order to earn the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent residency.

4) There’s recognition that farmers create jobs vital to the U.S. economy and their visas may be fast tracked. The question is, how long will they need to work after getting their green card?

From the blueprint:

Due to the utmost importance in our nation maintaining the safety of its food supply, agricultural workers who commit to the long term stability of our nation's agricultural industries will be treated differently than the rest of the undocumented population because of the role they play in ensuring that Americans have safe and secure agricultural products to sell and consume. These individuals will earn a path to citizenship through a different process under our new agricultural worker program.

What’s happening now:

Both farmers and employers want a new visa program. They claim the old one is choking in red-tape.

5) Who will be the “leaders” along the Southwest border to determine when it's safe enough for a pathway to citizenship?

From the blueprint:

We recognize that Americans living along the Southwest border are key to recognizing and understanding when the border is truly secure. Our legislation will create a commission comprised of governors, attorneys general, and community leaders living along the Southwest border to monitor the progress of securing our border and to make a recommendation regarding when the bill's security measures outlined in the legislation are completed.

What’s happening now:

San Diego and Tucson seeking to increase business and personal ties across the border. Arizona governor Jan Brewer wants a more secure border.

Congressman Ron Barber is holding his first community meeting to discuss border security along the Arizona-Mexico border tonight.

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