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Tipsheet

Hispanic Lawmakers Unveil Sweeping Bipartisan Immigration Bill

AP Photo/Gregory Bull

This week, a bipartisan group of legislators, led by Republican Florida Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar and Democratic Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar, unveiled a sweeping immigration bill aimed at creating a “dignity” status for illegal immigrants in the country.

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“It represents, I think, the best chance for finally addressing what has been a decades-old issue,” Escobar said of the legislation on Tuesday. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, the measure would pay to strengthen the Border Patrol, including adding more agents, surveillance technology, and border fencing. Immigrants who come to the United States seeking asylum would be sent to “humanitarian campuses” near the border. Here, they would have access to legal counsel and receive an asylum decision within 60 days. 

For illegal immigrants in the United States, the legislation would create a new seven-year “dignity” program. These immigrants would be required to pay a $5,000 penalty for illegally entering the United States in order to gain legal status. After seven years, if they pay an additional $5,000, they would become eligible for a Green Card.

The legislation would require the use of E-Verify for “every sector of the economy including agriculture.” And, it would fund five “regional processing centers” throughout Latin America where migrants could apply to come to the United States, either as a refugee or on a work visa.

Salazar reportedly said that her legislation is tougher than other immigration bills because it raises penalties for illegal border crossings and quickly deports illegal immigrants not granted asylum.

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“Now is when we’re going to start measuring the momentum that the bill is going to have,” she reportedly said.

On Twitter, Escobar wrote that immigration is a “complex” issue and that lawmakers have “[failed] to get beyond paralyzing gridlock have created a humanitarian crisis.

According to The Washington Post, Escobar and Salazar have been “quietly negotiating” the legislation. Both lawmakers come from majority-Hispanic congressional districts. 

“We understand that we are trying to open the Red Sea,” Salazar told the Post  in a joint interview with Escobar in Salazar’s office on Monday afternoon. “But someone has to try it. Moses did it. Maybe we can do it a second time.”

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