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Immigration Policy

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Throughout the course of United States history, immigration law and policy have helped to shape the course of life for immigrants and to define what their role is in the country.  From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, immigration policy has directly affected the lives of millions of legal and undocumented immigrants.  In recent years, there have been some key laws that have been proposed regarding immigration, and while not all have been passed, they continue to lay the groundwork for future immigration bills.

Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act of 2005

Better known as the McCain-Kennedy Bill, this was a bipartisan bill sponsored by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA).  Although the bill was never voted on, it laid the groundwork for future immigration bills such as the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (CIRA).  The McCain-Kennedy Bill’s main provision was that undocumented immigrants could pay a fine and apply for a H-5B visa that would allow them to work in the United States for six years before applying for citizenship. (1)

The Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005

Better known as HR. 4437, this bill was passed by the House in late 2005, but was not passed by the Senate.  HR. 4437 was very controversial, and led to many protests by the Latino/a population throughout the United States.  Listed below are the main provisions of the bill: (2)

The proposal of the bill was considered a setback for undocumented immigrants in the United States.  Although it was not passed in the Senate, the fact that the bill was proposed and passed in the House demonstrates that many politicians are in favor of limiting the rights of undocumented workers in the United States.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIRA) of 2006

The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act was a Senate Bill introduced in April 2006, dealing with many key issues relating to immigration today.  Here are some of the key initiatives that the bill proposes: (3)

Although CIRA was not passed in the House, many recent bills have tried to build on what CIRA wanted to accomplish.  

Secure Fence Act of 2006

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 was a bill passed by both the Senate and the House.  The purpose of the bill was to create a more secure border between the U.S. and Mexico by building roughly 700 miles of fence in areas where illegal border crossings are common. (4)

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIRA) of 2007

The CIRA bill of 2007 was a controversial bill that was never passed due to its harsh criticism by both Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate.  The provisions of the bill were designed to appease both opponents and supporters of immigrant rights which include: (5)

Even though both Democrats and Republicans drafted and supported the bill, CIRA 2007 was considered a failure and was never close to being passed.