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The United States Senate decided on Thursday to revive an immigration bill that was tabled last week. In theory, it could provide millions of the estimated 13 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. a chance at amnesty and work visa's, with the goal of opening a path toward American citizenship. The Senate indicates they will try to pass it before Memorial Day in late September of this year.
Previously, the House of Representatives had added an amendment to another bill that would have made it a felony to reside in the U.S.illegally. Currently, it is a misdemeanor offense to reside illegally in the U.S., which can (and usually does) result in deportation and a much greater difficulty in re-entering the U.S. The highly controversial House amendment would have banned most illegals from re-entry into the U.S. for life.
The potential law that the amendment was attached to was rejected by the Senate. In the aftermath of recent immigration rallies, political pressure has increased on the Congress to reform what is increasingly being viewed as a broken immigration policy for the United States.
The two major political parties in the U.S. are struggling for political control of the United States. 2006 is a "mid-term" election year, meaning it falls halfway between the four-year presidential election cycle. Historically, mid-term elections in the U.S. have been low profile. However, this year appears to be interesting as the Democratic Party views the falling approval ratings of President Bush as an opportunity to unseat the Republican Party.
Immigration reform has become a front-running topic in the mainstream news. The American Congress is also suffering a serious fall in approval among American voters. Enacting some form of immigration reform is becoming a safe domestic topic to debate publicly considering that the struggling economy, falling value of the dollar, increasing national debt and Iraq conflict are some of the primary alternatives.
What this means is that potential immigrants, both current and for the future, may well benefit. There is a strong push by the liberal and moderate elements of the government and the voter base to show compassion and act in the historically generous immigration policies of the U.S. More traditionally conservative elements of the debate also see benefit in immigration reform. From a business perspective, an influx of skilled and motivated workers could benefit the U.S.economy and many private businesses in several sectors.
Senators John McCain and Edward M. Kennedy drafted a bi-partisan bill that allows currently illegal immigrants to work toward American citizenship. This has become the centerpiece for renewed consideration in the coming weeks.
The negotiations will also, however, include provisions for strengthening the U.S. borders and visa process to greatly reduce illegal immigration in the future.