Immigration reform 101: How does Senate plan address four big questions?

After months of closed-door negotiations, the Senate’s bipartisan “Gang of Eight” offered a legislative summary of its proposal for comprehensive immigration reform. Here is how the Senate gang handled the four hottest immigration flashpoints.

4. Family reunification

Nam Y. Huh/AP/File
Immigrant rights protesters hold signs outside of Kluczynski Federal Building in downtown Chicago in March to denounce plans by immigration reformers in the Senate to end some family visas and diversity visas.

The Senate bill will likewise shift America’s immigration policy toward family members.

Chiefly, the bill focuses on getting spouses and children into the country, but it will cut back on allowing siblings and adult, married children to join their families in the US.

Those who could bring their spouses and children to the country without delay include green card holders, employment-based immigrants, doctoral degree holders in any field, some physicians, and some immigrants of “extraordinary ability” (like athletes, artists, executives, and others). Limits or bars on immigration among these core family members in the past put pressure on spouses and children to illegally immigrate to be with their loved ones, advocates say, and these changes will help alleviate those concerns.

Moreover, the bill says that the entire backlog of family-based visa applicants will be cleared within 10 years.

But US citizens will no longer be able to sponsor siblings, beginning 18 months after the bill is enacted. And the only married, adult children who can apply to join their families will be those under age 31. The bill also eliminates a long-standing conservative target: the diversity visa program, which brings in immigrants from countries (many in Africa) underrepresented in the wider immigration pool.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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