Tucked away in the 844-page immigration bill is a provision that could thwart citizenship hopes for many undocumented workers.
Tucked away in the 844-page immigration bill is a provision that could thwart citizenship hopes for many undocumented workers. - 
Listen To The Story
Marketplace

Under the immigration reform bill, undocumented immigrants would first be given provisional status. Later, they would have to prove that their family income stayed above 125 percent of the poverty level -- that’s about $29,400 for a family of four. Or they could show they didn’t go more than 60 consecutive days without a job. Otherwise, they could be deported.

Angela Kelley, who heads immigration policy at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, says the proposed rules are too strict.

“That is just simply creating quasi-documented people, who will never fully be able to integrate," Kelley says.

Kelley wants some flexibility. So if you’re unemployed for, say, 61-days straight, you keep your status if you have a good explanation.

Doris Meissner led the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service under President Clinton as is now with the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. She says the rules should be more flexible, but still make people work for citizenship.

“People earn their way, over time, into a legal status in the country," Meissner says.

Meissner adds the rules will satisfy critics, who don’t want to create new citizens who rely too much on government help.  

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.