North Texas Daily

Possible immigration reform sparks speculation

Possible immigration reform sparks speculation

February 04
22:06 2013

Melissa Wylie / Senior Staff Writer

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators proposed a reform on immigration laws last Monday, emphasizing border security and outlining a new path to citizenship, according to Reuters news.

The proposal was met with support from President Barack Obama, promoting timely changes to the system during a speech last Tuesday at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nev.

Kate Starnes is the executive director of Opening Doors International Services, a nonprofit organization offering immigration legal expertise in Denton.

“Comprehensive immigration reform means making the line shorter for those who want to immigrate legally,” Starnes said. “The wait is currently 28 years.”

Starnes said she does not know if the effects of a reform would be positive or negative until legislation is finalized.

“Let’s say they come to an agreement tomorrow,” Starnes said. “It would take until June or July to get everything written once they get the fundamentals of the laws.”

The process of putting reform into place could take two to three years, depending on the processes the federal government needs, Starnes said.

“Reform is contingent on enforcement,” Starnes said. “If they want to deport everyone before implicating reform, that could slow it down a lot.”

According to UNT International’s statistics summary, a total of 3,020 international students were enrolled in the fall.

Dorothy Horton, director of UNT International, said effects of a reform would split international students into two groups, dependent upon what changes are ultimately made.

“The group here legally as students may get work permissions after they graduate,” Horton said. “This bill, if it goes through, will give them the option to stay.”

The other group of students, who do not have legal status, would be provided an intermediate, semi-legal status while waiting for citizenship, Horton said.

“What is more important are the students who are not here who could be,” sociology professor James Swan said.

The Senate reform proposal included a Democratic and Republican agreement, but Congress is still in a general stalemate, Swan said.

“In a couple of areas where there’s been a little movement, it has to do with some real shifts in public attitudes and demographics,” Swan said. “What is happening in Texas, and to some degree in Denton, is there are more Hispanic people in who are citizens who, therefore, vote.”

Starnes said those seeking legal immigration should not wait to gather documents and apply for citizenship because approval prior to reform will ease and quicken the process in later stages.

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