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The fate of the legal immigrant may depend on reform too

As immigrants in the state of Florida and all across the country keep on top of the latest news and ongoing debates over federal reform measures, millions await their fate. Countless individuals, no matter their legal status, may be effected by changes to the U.S. immigration system; and for many of those that have been waiting to become citizens for years, changes cannot come soon enough. Potential updates to current immigration policies could effectively speed the process along for countless people seeking American citizenship.

Right now, millions of people are waiting to become citizens as the system continues to become increasingly overwhelmed with applications. Some individuals may wait for ten years or more to have their visa applications processed because of the disparity between the number of qualifying applicants and available visas. It’s estimated that over 4 million visa applicants could benefit from immigration reform, even though the issue hasn’t garnered the same attention as topics involving undocumented immigration.

While the U.S. House of Representatives is unlikely to support a sweeping overhaul of the visa system, the recently passed Senate bill does approach such issues. The proposed legislation attempts to make the entire system more efficient by implementing several changes. For one thing, no green cards would be issued to undocumented immigrants until all legal visa applications are processed. Priority processing would be granted for applicants who’ve been in the system the longest, and many could receive visas almost immediately.

If passed, the Senate’s measures could increase efficiency to the point that the country would experience a dramatic increase in legal immigration. And while it might fix an otherwise broken system, the Senate’s bill thus invites severe opposition.

Source: The New York Times, “Legal Immigrants Seek Reward for Years of Following the Rules,” Julia Preston, July 15, 2013

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