On Monday, January 28, Senators Schumer, McCain, Durbin, Graham, Menendez, Rubio, Bennet, and Flake released a Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform in which they outlined four basic principles which they intend to govern their upcoming efforts to reform the US immigration system.
The four principles are the following:
1. Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
2. Reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;
3. Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and
4. Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.
So what exactly does this mean for foreign national healthcare workers currently in the US on temporary work visas, and those outside the US waiting for visas to be approved or priority dates for permanent visas to become current? Is retrogression going to be resolved? Will green cards be available sooner? Will the process for getting temporary and permanent work visas become any easier?
Unfortunately, at this point, the answer is, we do not know. The Senators have simply announced principals they intend to follow in seeking immigration reform.
The most obviously beneficial principle is the fourth, which indicates they want to establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve US workforce needs. At this point, few would argue with the fact that the US currently has significant shortages in the fields of healthcare.
The second principle, reforming the legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy, is also promising.
The most important conclusion to be drawn from the announcement of this framework is the fact that it appears important members of both political parties are prepared to make a serious effort to reform the immigration system. Just how that will play out for healthcare workers remains to be seen.