Immigration bill could exclude hundreds of thousands
WASHINGTON (AP) — Bipartisan immigration legislation emerging in the Senate could prevent hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the U.S. illegally from ever becoming citizens, according to a Senate aide with knowledge of the proposals.
The bill expected to be unveiled next week would bar anyone who arrived in the U.S. after Dec. 31, 2011, from applying for legal status and ultimately citizenship, according to the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the proposals had not been announced.
It also would require applicants to document that they were in the country before Dec. 31, 2011, have a clean criminal record, and show enough employment or financial stability that they're likely to stay off welfare.
Those requirements could end up excluding hundreds of thousands of the 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally from the path to citizenship envisioned by the bill, the aide said.
Although illegal immigration to the U.S. has been dropping, many tens of thousands still arrive each year, so the cutoff date alone could exclude a large number of people. That may come as a disappointment to immigrant rights groups that had been hoping that anyone here as of the date of enactment of the bill could be able to become eligible for citizenship.