In Senate Bill, Path to Citizenship May Not Come After Border Triggers

By Tom K. Wong, tomkwong@ucsd.edu, @twong002

At close to midnight PST Tuesday, the full text of the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill was finally released. The full 844-page bill can be found here.

Among the early insights gleaned from the exact language of the bill relates to how the path to citizenship will unfold. While the bill reaffirms that border security triggers are necessary prerequisites for the path to citizenship, it also includes language stating that if making citizenship contingent on border triggers – which leaves immigrants stuck in a “provisional” legal status until these triggers are met – is found to be unconstitutional, then the path to citizenship will be available to all in 10 years  (see section 3 of the bill).

As the “registered provisional immigrant status” that the bill creates and the legal implications of being a lawfully permitted immigrant without lawful permanent resident status (convoluted, I know) is new to immigration policy, this appears to provide some room for those seeking a more direct and inclusive path to citizenship.