Bar the 3-and-10-year Bar?

In what appears to be one of few fruitful recommendations to come out of either political party’s immigration rhetoric, the 3-and-10-year bar may be on the chopping block.  As of the end of last week, the Washington Times indicated that Rep. Labrador (R-Idaho) suggested a compromise with Democrats to ease the harsh punishment to immigrants who have accumulated unlawful presence in the United States.  Under the current law, undocumented immigrants who entered without inspection and have since accumulated unlawful time in the U.S. suffer a penalty if that accumulation of time exceeds either six months or reaches one year.  This provision affects roughly 25% of undocumented immigrants.  It has hindered those with lawful means of immigration from seeking such statuses without accomplishing its intention which was deterrence of unlawful immigration.

In negotiation, Rep. Labrador has indicated that in conjunction with easing the punishment for immigration violators, he and other Republicans seek to extend more lawful immigration benefits in the form of visas to non-immigrant students.  This offer comes by way of the Heritage Foundation, “a research and educational institution whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”  House Republicans met at a Heritage Foundation forum to discuss immigration, a topic which has become quite controversial for the GOP in recent years.

But according to the Washington Times, Mr. Labrador’s proposal didn’t impress those who it referred to as “immigration advocates.”  These “advocates” say “they will only accept a broad reform package that covers all parts of the immigration debate.” Democrats want a monolithic bill that addresses all immigration grievances at once at the expense of any progress.  However, in effect, repealing the “3-and-10-year bar” to immigration will address both past and present hurdles that many current and future immigrants face.  It will remove the bar to entry on those individuals who are present in the U.S. and have lawful means of immigration but have remained here without seeking the benefit for fear of that bar upon departure.  Currently, these individuals can leave and only reenter upon receipt of their available visas immediately if the immigrant’s U.S. citizen family member has an extreme hardship.  Otherwise, he or she will endure a lengthy, and in the case of the 10-year bar, unbearable wait period.

By offering to eliminate this bar, which was created to deter unlawful presence, Republican representatives seek to encourage future legal immigration by increasing the grant of green cards to “foreigners who graduate from American universities with advanced degrees in the fields of science, engineering, math or technology.” In effect, this suggestion by Republicans seeks to enable businesses the ability offer jobs related to the course of study of non-immigrant students in the U.S.  This strategy would address the negative repercussions of the 3-and-10-year bar on affected individuals, families, and the businesses that currently employ them while simultaneously encouraging those who would like to work here legally and the businesses who seek to employ them in the future.

Regardless of any forthcoming immigration legislation, it is concerning that the Washington Times describes “immigration advocates” as only those representatives who support an omnibus bill and is a fallacy.  Republican Rep. Labrador and Sen. Marco Rubio, specifically, have been loud and indispensable advocates of the American immigrant.  The manner they and others in their party believe is the most beneficial and effective way to address immigration should not be characterized as inapposite to the advocacy of immigration.  Republicans have long been a party for immigration and for amnesty in many cases.  It appears that a majority of the American journalists have left the responsibility for responsible informational gatekeeping to the individual.

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