Immigration Reform Proposals Announced in January 2013

A group of key senators, representing both the Republican and Democratic parties, announced an agreement on the key component principles of immigration reform. These renewed efforts toward comprehensive immigration reform have many similarities to past proposals. Core concepts behind the reform proposal are discussed here for our readers, who are reminded that this matter is in the earliest proposal stage. There have been no changes in the law as the result of this proposal. [See The Legislative Process: How a Bill Becomes a Law, to better understand what must occur before there is a change in U.S. immigration law.]

Background: Bipartisan Senatorial Support

The proposal, which has been released only as a concept as of this writing and not yet in the form of proposed legislation, has support from both key political parties. The senators behind this proposal are: Charles Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durban (D-IL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Some of these senators have been involved with immigration reform efforts for many years.

The matter has been presented in the form of four legislative pillars, with an explanation of these concepts. There is not a proposed bill pending in furtherance of the reform efforts in either the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate at the time of this writing.

Four Pillars

As stated, the proposal contains what it refers to as Four Basic Legislative Pillars. As stated in the announcement, these are:

  • Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether undocumented foreign nationals have left the country when required.
  • Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families.
  • Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers.
  • Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.

Improving the Immigration System and Attracting the Best and Brightest

The aspect of the proposal that has drawn the interest of many falls under the second of the four pillars. The proposal states that America’s future economic prosperity depends upon the development of a rational immigration system. There is recognition that the failures to address the problems within the system discourage the best and brightest foreign nationals from immigrating to the United States and contributing to our economy.

Proposal to Reward STEM Advanced Degree Holders

The senators hope to create a system that better recognizes the features that build the U.S. economy. They recognize the need to reduce family and employment-based backlogs. The proposal includes a rather dramatic manner in which to attract highly educated foreign nationals. This is the granting of permanent residence (green card) to foreign nationals who hold U.S. doctorate or masters degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.


There is a sense of momentum behind the renewed immigration reform efforts. We at the Murthy Law Firm are monitoring this matter very closely, to update our readers, who are reminded not to make plans based upon proposals. Much work remains before this proposal can become an actual change in law. There are always adjustments and compromises needed to gain enough support for legal changes, particularly in matters as controversial as immigration. We are only at the beginning of what is likely to be a long and difficult process.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.