For Your Information:
Provisions of the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S 2611)"

June 6, 2006

On May 26, the Senate passed the "Comprehensive Immigration and Reform Act of 2006" (S 2611). While this bill is advertised as a "compromise" and even as "pro-immigrant," its key provisions call for militarizing the border and increasing repression against immigrants, declaring English the "official language," and moving close to a national ID card. In the name of offering an "earned" path to citizenship, the bill would legalize a caste system under which millions of immigrants would become indentured servants. It is not only an attack on immigrants but on the rights of the oppressed minorities and all Americans. Before becoming law, S 2611 must be "reconciled" with an earlier bill passed by the House of Representatives which in some respects is even harsher than the Senate bill.

Militarizing the Border

The provisions of S 2611 include:

- Authorizing the National Guard to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border;

- More than doubling the number of Border Patrol officers from 11,3000 to 25,000 by 2011;

- Building 370 miles of fence and 500 miles of vehicle barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border;

- Requiring the expedited removal (deportation without hearing) of noncitizens detained within 100 miles of the border;

Criminalizing Immigrants

The Senate bill increases penalties for various immigration violations and increases state and local policing:

- Expands the definition and criminalizes the omission of information or giving false information on immigration-related documents;

- Prevents anyone admitting to document fraud (including false use of a Social Security number to get a job) from ever legalizing their status;

- Expands the definition of "alien smuggling" and allows the government to seize the property of "smugglers." For example, any person who invited an undocumented relative into his/her house could have the house seized. Churches, charitable organizations and others that help refugees and other "illegal" immigrants could also be subject to penalties.

- Dramatically increases the role of state and local police in enforcing immigration laws.

English as the National Language

S 2611 declares English as the national language and insists that no one has "a right, entitlement or claim to have the government of the U.S. or any of its officials or representatives act, communicate, perform or provide services or provide materials in any language other than English."

S 2611 also increases the level of English proficiency required for naturalization.

Moves Towards a National ID

S 2611 would create a mandatory Employment Eligibility Verification System (EEVS) to electronically check the employment eligibility of every new job applicant (about 50 million/year).

In applying for jobs, immigrants would be required to present an "employment authorization document" issued by immigration authorities and U.S. citizens would have to use either a passport, or a driver's license or state ID that complies with the REAL ID act.

In sum, everyone would have to obtain a government-issued "permission slip" to work. The government would also create a huge database on every citizen and visa holder.

So-Called "Legalization" Provisions

To qualify for a "path" to legalization, noncitizens would have to pay at least $4,000 in fines and fees. In addition, applicants would have to pay all back taxes including interest and penalties. Anyone with even a minor police record would be disqualified.

- All immigrants "illegally" in the country for less than 2 years, would be subject to immediate deportation.

- Immigrants who have been here "illegally" between 2 to 5 years, would be allowed to work here for 3 more years and then would be required to leave.

- Immigrants in the U.S. "illegally" for more than 5 years would be allowed to "earn" citizenship. They would have to work continuously for 6 more years, pay fines, penalties and back taxes, pass a thorough background check, and prove proficiency in English and "civics. Then they would be allowed to apply for naturalization.

- A guest worker program would be expanded to allow 200,000 "low-skilled" workers to work in the U.S. for a maximum of 6 years.