The answer to the question of what to do while enforcement procedures are implemented and before formal awards of legalization for any group take place will differ for each of three major groups:
- Criminal illegal aliens;
- Non-criminal illegal aliens, a group that would further be subdivided into those who came here illegally as adults and those who were illegally brought here by their parents as children; and
- Those who are here legally on work or student visas who wish to change their immigration status to that of legal permanent resident.
The question of how to treat criminal aliens while enforcement measures are put into place is relatively straightforward. For them, the enforcement machinery already in place would continue, with two additions written into new House immigration legislation.
First, the specific list of crimes to be considered deportable offenses would be broadened, for reasons already noted, to include criminal acts that don’t rise to the level of murder or rape, but are still serious and should be a basis for exclusion. Criminal aliens would be subject to expedited removal and barred from legal entry permanently.
Second, those caught trying to enter the country illegally after the bill was passed would be detained, biometric and other information would be taken and put into a database, and they would then be removed from the country and barred from legal entry for a period of at least 10 years.
The third group, those in the country legally who wish to adjust their status from non-immigrant to immigrant is also a relatively straightforward group to deal with while enforcement procedures are put into place. Currently, "The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) permits the change of an individual's immigration status while in the United States from nonimmigrant or parolee (temporary) to immigrant (permanent) if the individual was inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States and is able to meet all required qualifications for a green card (permanent residence) in a particular category."
Those who might wish to avail themselves of this adjustment of status opportunity include those on temporary work visas, those on student visas, those granted Temporary Protected Status because of natural disasters or widespread political violence or revolution in their home countries, and those granted asylum.
The adjustment of status procedures are fairly straightforward, with one caveat to be noted shortly and there is no reason why this immigration process should not be continued while immigration enforcement procedures are put into place as part of the small grand bargain we envision.
So, to repeat, a House-based grand bargain legislation would begin by putting into effect enforcement procedures and would, at the same time, continue two major elements of our immigration procedures. Criminal aliens and those caught trying to enter the country illegally would be subject to expedited removal. The former would be permanently barred from legal entry, the latter for a period of at least 10 years.
At the same time, immigration law would continue to look favorably on those who abide by our immigration laws and ask to become more permanent members of our community. Those who have come to the country legally and wish to change their status to legal permanent residents, and perhaps citizens, would continue to be processed in the normal ways.
This leaves the most controversial group, the roughly 12 million illegal aliens now living in the United States.