Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic (HIRC) recently published a three-part blog series analyzing various aspects of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S.744), which passed in the Senate last month. The bill balances a pathway to citizenship with strict border security provisions, and attempts to improve the process through which refugees fearing persecution in their home countries may apply for asylum in the United States. Read on for more about how the bill affects the asylum process, pathways to citizenship, and border security.
Part I: How S.744 Affects the Asylum Process
The Senate bill makes significant changes to the asylum application process. Of these changes, one of the most impactful is the elimination of the one-year filing deadline. Currently, asylum seekers must apply for asylum within one year after entering the United States. By removing the deadline, the bill extends protection to refugees that fail to speak out within their first year in the U.S. due to trauma or unfamiliarity with the immigration laws.
Part II: Pathways to Citizenship
A core element of S.744, and perhaps its most controversial, is the establishment of pathways to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants that currently reside in the United States. However, far from granting “amnesty,” the bill mandates a legalization process that is in fact selective, expensive, and extremely time consuming. This post analyzes the various pathways to citizenship provided by the bill, and the difficulties that could potentially arise along each path.
Path III: Border Security “Triggers”
The pathways to citizenship that the bill provides are predicated upon the attainment of strict enforcement goals along the Southwest border. These preconditions, called “triggers,” were further strengthened by the Hoeven-Corker Amendment that was added to the bill. The final part of the blog series takes a deeper look into S.744’s border security provisions, and predicts their impact.