Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 17, 2013


Host: Ted Simons

Immigration Bill


  • A new comprehensive immigration bill was released Wednesday. Phoenix Immigration Attorney Regina Jefferies will talk about the provisions of the bill.
Guests:
  • Regina Jefferies - Immigration Attorney, Phoenix
Category: Law   |   Keywords: immigration, bill, law, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO "ARIZONA HORIZON," I'M TED SIMONS. THE U.S. SENATE'S COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION PLAN WAS UNVEILED TODAY. THE PROPOSAL INCLUDES A PATH TO CITIZENSHIP AND REQUIRES EMPLOYERS TO USE E-VERIFY TO CHECK WORKERS' ELIGIBILITY. THE PLAN EXPANDS SOME VISA CATEGORIES AND DECREASES OTHERS, AND CALLS FOR THE ENTIRE BORDER TO BE MONITORED BY HOMELAND SECURITY. JOINING US TO HELP BETTER EXPLAIN THE PLAN IS IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY REGINA JEFFERIES. GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

Regina Jeffries: GOOD TO SEE YOU.

Ted Simons: WE CAN'T GO THROUGH ALL 844 PAGES, BUT WERE THERE ANY SURPRISES?

Regina Jeffries: I THINK THERE WERE SOME SURPRISES. THERE WERE ALSO NOT SURPRISES, AS WELL. NOBODY WAS REALLY SURPRISED TO SEE A LOT OF THIS WOULD BE CONTINGENT ON AN INCREASE IN BORDER SECURITY, IN ORDER TO GET SOME OF THE THINGS LIKE THE PROVISIONAL STATUS THAT WOULD LEAD TO CITIZENSHIP ULTIMATELY FOR INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE HERE. BUT AS FAR AS SURPRISES GO, ONE OF THE SURPRISES WAS THAT THE WORK-BASED VISAS WOULD BE MORE TIED TO THE MARKET, THAT SOME OF THE FAMILY-BASED CATEGORIES WOULD BE ELIMINATED IN FAVOR OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF IMMIGRATION. SO IT WAS REALLY ACTUALLY AN INTERESTING MIX OF THINGS THAT CAME OUT, THIS BILL.

Ted Simons: LET'S START WITH BORDER SECURITY. IT DOES SEEM LIKE A LOT OF THINGS DEPEND ON THAT. WHAT DOES THE PLAN CALL FOR, AND HOW DOES BORDER SECURITY IMPACT OTHER ASPECTS?

Regina Jeffries: BORDER SECURITY IS A PRETTY BIG FOCUS OF THE PLAN. ONE OF THE THINGS IT DOES IS THAT IT CALLS FOR REACHING A 90% APPREHENSION RATE ON THE SOUTHERN BORDER. THE MAIN FOCUS IS ON THE SOUTHERN BORDER BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND MEXICO. IT CALLS FOR ACTUALLY PUTTING A LOT MORE MONEY INTO BORDER SECURITY AND THOSE AGENCIES THAT ARE WORKING ON THE BORDER, INCLUDING INCREASING NUMBERS OF AGENTS ON THE BORDERS, INCREASING TECHNOLOGY, THE USE OF DRONES AND THINGS LIKE THAT.

Ted Simons: 90% APPREHENSION RATE, THAT MEANS % GOT THROUGH? WHAT IS THAT?

Regina Jeffries: THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION. THERE IS A DEFINITION IN THE PROPOSED BILL OF THIS, BUT I THINK IT'S SOMETHING THAT SORT OF REMAINS TO BE SEEN. WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT IS A 90% APPREHENSION RATE OF ALL ENTRANTS. IT'S GOING TO BE INTERESTING HOW THEY COUNT ALL ENTRANTS IF YOU'RE NOT CATCHING 10% OF THEM.

Ted Simons: IF YOU MAKE IT THROUGH, HOW DO WE KNOW -- I GUESS THEY WILL WORK THAT OUT.

Regina Jeffries: THERE IS A COMMISSION FOR THAT.

Ted Simons: I'M SURE THERE IS. THERE'S AN ADJUSTING OF STATUS TO WHAT'S CALLED PROVISIONAL IMMIGRANT STATUS. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Regina Jeffries: THIS IS SORT OF THE FIRST STEP ON THE PATH TO PERMANENT RESIDENCY FOR INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE HERE. IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THIS CATEGORY WOULD NOT INCLUDE EVERY SINGLE PERSON CURRENTLY HERE UNLAWFULLY. IT WOULD LEAVE OUT CERTAIN GROUPS OF INDIVIDUALS LIKE INDIVIDUALS WITH AN AGGRAVATED FELONY, WHICH IS A TERM UNDER IMMIGRATION LAW. IT WOULD EXCLUDE INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE BEEN CONVICTED OF A FELONY. SO THERE ARE CERTAIN CRIMINAL BARS TO THAT, AS WELL. BUT FOR THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE HERE, IT WOULD PROVIDE A SORT OF STEPPINGSTONE TO THAT LAWFUL PERMANENT RESIDENCE STATUS, AND ALLOW THEM TO BE HERE WITH THAT STATUS, WORK AND PROVIDE FOR THEIR FAMILIES.

Ted Simons: THEY WOULD NOT HAVE TO GO BACK HOME AND REAPPLY AS SOME HAD SUGGESTED?

Regina Jeffries: THAT'S NOT PART OF THE PROPOSAL AT THIS POINT.

Ted Simons: WHAT ABOUT FAMILIES? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE FAMILIES OF THE UNDOCUMENTED THAT ARE HERE?

Regina Jeffries: FOR THE FAMILY, IT MEANS MORE SECURITY. THIS IS JUST A PROPOSED BILL, SO WE STILL HAVE TO WAIT TO SEE WHAT COMES OF IT. IT DOES REALLY AIM TO KEEP FAMILIES TOGETHER. ACTUALLY ONE OF THE SURPRISES, SINCE YOU ASKED EARLIER, IT WOULD ALLOW CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS WHO HAD BEEN DEPORTED PRIOR TO THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE BILL TO BE ABLE TO APPLY TO COME BACK IN, IF THEY DIDN'T HAVE ANY TYPE OF CRIMINAL RECORD, AND IF THEY COULD SHOW THEY HAD AN IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBER WHO'S A U.S. CITIZEN AND LIVING HERE.

Ted Simons: AS FAR AS INCREASING VISAS FOR SKILLED WORKERS, UNSKILLED WORKERS, HOW DOES THAT PLAY IN HERE?

Regina Jeffries: YEAH, I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS THAT THIS BILL DOES THAT'S GOOD IS THAT IT ACTUALLY SORT OF LOOKS MORE AT A MARKET-BASED APPROACH FOR THINGS LIKE H1Bs, VISAS FOR PROFESSIONALLY SKILLED WORKERS. THEY PERPETUALLY RUN OUT EVERY YEAR. IT'S CAPPED AT A SPECIFIC NUMBER OF VISAS THAT'S SORT OF JUST PICKED OUT OF THE AIR. THE BILL RECOGNIZES YOU CAN'T JUST PICK A NUMBER, BECAUSE THE MARKET WILL SORT OF DICTATE HOW MANY ARE NEEDED IN A CERTAIN YEAR. THERE MAY BE MORE OR FEWER NEEDED.

Ted Simons: THE QUESTION IS, WHO DECIDES WHAT THE MARKET IS SAYING.

Regina Jeffries: THAT’S A GOOD QUESTIONS. THESE ARE ALL DETAILS THAT WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO SEE COME OUT.

Ted Simons: AND EMPLOYMENT VERIFICATION ALSO A MAJOR ASPECT OF THE PLAN. ENHANCING E-VERIFY? KEEPING IT AS IT IS?

Regina Jeffries: IT DOES MAKE E-VERIFY MANDATORY FOR EMPLOYERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY. ARIZONA WILL BE AHEAD OF THE GAME ON THAT ONE.

Ted Simons: SO AS FAR AS ADDRESSING THE PATH TO CITIZENSHIP, WHAT CHANGES?

Regina Jeffries: WELL, WHAT CHANGES IS THAT IT ACTUALLY PROVIDES A WAY FOR PEOPLE TO EARN THEIR WAY TO PERMANENT RESIDENCY AND EARN THEIR WAY TO CITIZENSHIP. IT'S NOT AUTOMATIC BY ANY MEANS. AND UNDER THIS THEY WOULD HAVE TO MEET CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS, PROVIDE CERTAIN DOCUMENTATION. IT'S NOT JUST FOR ANYBODY. IT IS A COMPROMISE BILL, IT DOES LEAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE OUT. NOT EVERYONE'S GOING TO BE HAPPY WITH THIS OBVIOUSLY.

Ted Simons: BUT WHAT ABOUT THOSE SEEKING ASYLUM?

Regina Jeffries: FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS THERE'S ONE CHANGE THAT'S INTERESTING, ONE THING IT DOES IS IT GETS RID OF THE ONE-YEAR FILING BAR. THAT MEANS UNDER ASYLUM LAW CURRENTLY YOU HAVE TO APPLY WITHIN ONE YEAR OF YOUR ENTRY INTO THE U.S. FOR ASYLUM. IT'S REALLY A POOR POLICY. YOU END UP HAVING A LOT OF CASES WHERE PEOPLE WITH LEGITIMATE CLAIMS, THEY CAN'T APPLY WITHIN THAT ONE-YEAR PERIOD FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER, AND IT'S DIFFICULT TO SHOW ONE OF THE EXCEPTIONS APPLIES. IT'S A GOOD CHANGE BECAUSE IT IS GOING TO ALLOW FOR LEGITIMATE CLAIMS TO BE ACTUALLY HEARD.

Ted Simons: WITH ALL OF THIS, WHAT ARE YOU ADVISING PEOPLE? WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?

Regina Jeffries: WELL, RIGHT NOW SINCE IT'S JUST A BILL, I'M REALLY TELLING PEOPLE WE'RE DOING A LOT OF WAIT AND SEE. IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT THAT PEOPLE STAY INFORMED. THEY KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON BUT, AT THE SAME TIME, IT'S SIMILAR TO THE DEFERRED ACTION PROGRAM WITH THE DREAMER STUDENTS, THAT YOU REALLY JUST HAVE TO BE PATIENT AND TO MAKE SURE YOU'RE GETTING GOOD INFORMATION, THAT YOU'RE GETTING INFORMATION THAT'S, YOU KNOW, THAT ISN'T FROM DISREPUTABLE SOURCES.

Ted Simons: AS FAR AS THE DREAMERS ARE CONCERNED, ARE THEY ADDRESSED IN THIS BILL?

Regina Jeffries: THEY ARE, THEY COME OUT REALLY WELL IN THIS BILL. IT DOES SIGNIFY THE SPECIAL STATUS OF THAT POPULATION AND THE RECOGNITION THAT SENATORS HAVE OF THEIR SPECIAL STATUS. THEY HAVE AN EXPEDITED PROCESS FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCY AND CITIZENSHIP.

Ted Simons: AS YOU MENTIONED, IT'S SO BROAD AND THERE'S SO MUCH IN THERE, IT'S NOT ONLY BROAD BUT COMPLICATED AT THE SAME TIME. WE'RE GOING TO SEE A LOT OF AMENDMENTS, DON'T YOU THINK?

Regina Jeffries: I THINK THERE WILL BE QUITE A LOT OF DEBATE AND AMENDMENTS. IT BE AN ENTERTAINING COUPLE OF MONTHS.

Ted Simons: GOOD TO GET A BETTER DEFINITION OF WHAT'S GOING ON HERE. THANKS FOR JOINING US, WE APPRECIATE IT.

Regina Jeffries: THANK YOU.

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