Following the release of the Republican Party’s list of principles on immigration reform that was released last week, activists, immigration lawyers and others are optimistic that although the Republican plan does not call for a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants that the Senate bill (which passed in June 2012) called for, the plan might allow for a path to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
For example, the GOP document does not state that such legalized individuals cannot seek permanent residence and citizenship through normal channels within the existing, and most likely a reformed immigration system. While it would be really beneficial for the integration of the nation to have a special pathway to citizenship, like the Senate bill after individuals are put in a provisional status for 10 years and 3 more years as a permanent resident, such a proposal would still be welcomed by those who are out of status or have removal orders, with no other forms of relief to remain in the US.
In addition, this would allow those currently without documents to be able to live and work freely, and even potentially travel outside the US. For those who presently lack such basic freedoms, who among them would not readily embrace their new life even if it is not all we or they would have hoped for? If the existing immigration system is reformed to include more pathways to legal residence, then such individuals can still hope to become US citizens. Moreover, they could also potentially become citizens more quickly than the 13 year special path to citizenship under the Senate immigration bill.