A new immigration bill introduced in the House of Representatives at the end of May is one of the first bipartisan immigration reform bills introduced in Congress since 2013. It’s likely to be hotly debated in the coming months.
The bill, called the Dignity Act of 2023, was introduced by Reps. Veronica Escobar (D – El Paso, Tex.) and Maria Elvira Salazar (R – Fla.). It’s the first proposal in the last decade that includes a path to citizenship for adult undocumented immigrants.
Some Key Provisions of the Dignity Act
In addition to providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, the Dignity Act also proposes a wide range of updates and changes to the nation’s immigration system. Some of these include:
- 7-year temporary status for the undocumented: The bill creates the Dignity Program, which includes a seven-year temporary legal status for undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. They would need to pass a background check and pay outstanding taxes or debts. This status would give dignity to the undocumented by letting them legally work, travel and access government services.
- Border security: The bill provides $25 billion to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. It mandates E-verify nationwide, provides for the hiring of thousands of new Border Patrol agents, raises penalties on human traffickers, directs DHS to implement biometrics at all ports of entry in the nation, and enhances inspections and surveillance at ports of entry.
- Asylum: The bill calls for the creation of five Humanitarian Campuses (HCs) along the southern border. Asylum-seekers would stay at the HC until their case is decided. Asylum claims would be decided in 60 days or fewer. Five additional centers would be created in Latin America to provide pre-asylum screening and other services.
- Protect American workers: A new fund would be created to provide training to American workers to help them compete in the global economy.
- Fix visa backlogs: Anyone who has been waiting for a visa, whether family-based or employment-based, for 10 years or more will be granted a visa.
- Change the visa system: The bill proposes to add more immigrant visa numbers and change the worldwide quota system. It would also increase H-2B visa numbers by creating a returning worker exception that would exempt returning workers from visa caps.
These are just some of the dozens of provisions contained in the proposed Dignity Act. Like other attempts to reform the immigration system, this one will be met with vigorous debate. Some people believe this bill doesn’t go far enough to protect asylum-seekers or address the core causes of migration.
Count on Attorney Mark E. Jacobs for Updates on Immigration Law
At Mark E. Jacobs, P.C., we will monitor the Dignity Act as it moves through the lawmaking process. If there are significant updates, we may write about them here on our site.