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April 20, 07

NEWS / $1,500 Fine for Undocumented APAs under STRIVE

A bipartisan immigration bill last month will try to resolve the status of more than 12 million undocumented immigrants – including 1 million Asian Pacific Americans.

The bipartisan proposal known as the STRIVE Act ("Security Through Regularized Immigration and Vibrant Economy") by Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) would allow undocumented immigrants to apply with their families under a new visa category - conditional nonimmigrant status – which would allow them to work and travel in the U.S. for six years.

According to a Congressional analysis, the new visa is a way of promoting STRIVE’s goal of "earned legalization for qualified, hardworking individuals" among undocumented immigrants.
The new visa holders would have to "go to the back of the line for permanent resident status or green cards" – a prerequisite for eventual citizenship. While giving lower priority to the CNS visa category, the Flake-Gutierrez bill emphasized clearing up the more than two-decade old backlog of family visa applicants – mostly from China, India, Philippines, Vietnam and Korea - to enter the United States legally.

"On a bipartisan basis, this does not in any way lessen those who are already in line and …are here legally. They’re the ones who would be up in front of the line," Rep. Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) said in Palo Alto, California.

To be eligible for the new visa status, applicants must, for example, pay a $500 fine, an application fee for adults, document their continued presence and employment in the U.S. and be subject to employment and background checks, including criminal activity.

Going from the conditional visa to securing permanent residence and eventual citizenship will require, for example, an additional $1,500 fine, additional application fees and meeting a "Legal Reentry" requirement where a CNS applicant must exit and legally re-enter the country.

However, the Organization of Chinese Americans expressed concern about the practicality of the "Legal Reentry" program, given the "undue hardship" imposed on immigrants and the "immigration agencies attempting to track such movement."

While penalties are imposed, holders of the new visa will have labor, health and safety protections.

President George W. Bush has not taken a position on the STRIVE Act, he has said he would support a comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform bill that resolves the status of 12 million undocumented immigrants, that does not grant amnesty, but requires them to pay a "meaningful" penalty.

Tags: document, background checks, legalization, background check,


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