On Thursday, Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released a framework for comprehensive immigration reform. Although a bill has yet to be introduced, the Senators outlined their “four pillar” reform strategy in a Washington Post opinion column. This plan would include “requiring biometric Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs; fulfilling and strengthening our commitments on border security and interior enforcement; creating a process for admitting temporary workers; and implementing a tough but fair path to legalization for those already here.”
With respect to the identification system, the proposal would require all U.S. citizens and legal immigrants who want to work to obtain a “high-tech, fraud-proof” Social Security card that would store a biometric identifier. This information would be kept on the card only. Employers would then be responsible for swiping the cards through a machine to verify the individual’s legal status. Employers that refuse to use this system or otherwise knowingly hire illegal workers would face monetary penalties and, if repeat offenders, prison terms.
To promote the retention of foreign students who receive PhDs or master’s degrees in science, technology, engineering or math from a U.S. university, the proposal would award green cards to these highly-skilled individuals. For lower-skilled workers, the proposal would allow employers to hire immigrants if they can show that they were unable to find qualified citizen workers to fill the positions.
In a press release, President Obama praised the blueprint, calling it a “promising, bipartisan framework which can and should be the basis for moving forward. It thoughtfully addresses the need to shore up our borders, and demands accountability from both workers who are here illegally and employers who game the system.” Obama added that the next step should be the incorporation of this blueprint into a workable bill.
Photo credit: David Franklin