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What Does the Dignity Act of 2023 Require?

The immigration agenda brought to the White House by United States President Joe Biden didn’t include a reform proposal. When asked about this, Biden explained that his long career in the Senate lets him know that comprehensive immigration reform can only be accomplished with a unified government. In other words, his Democratic Party would need to be in full control of Congress for a White House initiative to pass. However, this doesn’t apply to the Dignity Act of 2023, a bipartisan proposal that’s as close to comprehensive reform as the current political climate will allow.

A “Carrot-and-Stick” Approach to Immigration Reform

The Dignity Act was introduced by Representatives Maria Elvira Salazar, a Republican from Florida, and Veronica Escobar, a Democrat from Texas. Both legislators have solid track records of working on immigration issues. This has attracted bipartisan support from some of their colleagues, and the overall effort is underscored by a carrot-and-stick approach. The stick component is a series of measures of a reforming nature, such as expansions of the H-2A and H-2B visas for foreign workers, new methods for requesting asylum, and overhauling various immigration processes. The carrot is the Dignity Program, which applies to foreigners who have been living as undocumented immigrants for five years.

Under the Dignity Program, undocumented immigrants without criminal backgrounds would be invited to apply for special status. The program, which would last between five and seven years, would require applicants to reside and work in the U.S. while paying income taxes and settling any outstanding debts with the Internal Revenue Service. The bill mentions payment of an initial fine for which no amount has been set. Moreover, applicants would also have to pay $5,000 over five years as a form of restitution to American taxpayers.

Applicants in this program would receive employment authorization, and previous deportation notices would be removed unless they’re aggravated by factors beyond immigration. Once the restitution requirement is satisfied, applicants would receive conditional residency status along with green cards. However, they could opt to extend the restitution program for another five years and an additional $5,000 in redemption payments or 200 hours of community service. Choosing the redemption path would grant applicants permanent residency and green cards without conditions. The funds collected from these programs are intended to subsidize job training programs for unemployed Americans. Foreigners in Southern California who are considering applying for the program should consult immigration attorneys who are authorized to provide law-related immigration services in San Diego, CA

Initial Reaction to the Dignity Act Proposal

Thus far, supporters of the Dignity Act are pointing out that the program has the potential to help more than 10 million foreigners who live and work in the U.S. as undocumented immigrants. Other provisions in the legislative proposal call for a shorter path to legal status for agricultural workers and foreigners who serve in the military, regardless of whether they do so during wartime. This is the first time Congress will debate a carrot-and-stick approach to immigration reform, and it appears to have piqued the interest of Republicans who are normally opposed to any measures that may expand immigration. 

If you need help with any aspect of the immigration process, reach out to the caring, experienced San Diego immigration attorneys at KS Visa Law. From green cards to family immigration to naturalization, we can address all your immigration-related needs. Call us today at 858-874-0711 to schedule an appointment.

April 2024