With the new Dignity Act in Congress, the future of immigration in the United States is up in the air. The act would make certain changes to American immigration policy, including mandatory E-Verify, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and additional border security measures. These changes could have a huge impact on immigration and on how people think about the issue of immigration reform.
Overview of the Dignity Act
The long-awaited Dignity Act is a far-reaching immigration bill that includes a range of reforms and measures. It provides an earned path to citizenship in the United States for those who are already here and already undocumented, establishes mandatory nationwide E-Verify to ensure employers only hire workers who are authorized to work in the United States and strengthens border security through improved technology and increased personnel.
This bipartisan bill was introduced by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and is seen as a major step forward in renewing America’s commitment to its immigrant population. It provides a path to citizenship, introduces mandatory E-Verify, and strengthens border security to ensure businesses only hire those authorized to work lawfully in the US, improving job opportunities for existing American citizens.
Mandatory E-Verify for Employers
Employers must use E-Verify for all new hires under the Dignity Act. This will become a crucial part of building a fairer and more level playing field for all workers, as E-Verify will help employers comply with the law while also preventing those who cannot legally work from getting jobs. Job applicants’ personal information is used to verify their identity and legal status.
This is beneficial for all involved: workers gain protection against exploitation, while employers get to compete in an environment without unfair competition from illegal employees. E-Verify would ensure that employers only have employees who are lawfully eligible to work in the US, providing greater protection and improving the quality of jobs. It would also make it easier to detect non-compliance with laws and regulations banning labor exploitation.
How will Mandatory E-Verify Work?
The Dignity Act includes a new mandatory E-Verify system that will be used to determine the legal status of employees. Through this system, employers must provide the Department of Homeland Security with information on potential hires to verify the individual’s identity and legal status.
- Once the employer submits this information, it will be compared against federal databases and further analyzed by DHS to confirm if the individual is eligible for employment. If approved, employers can then proceed with hiring the employee.
- Under this new system, employers are also required to keep records of all workers’ documents for three years following the date of hire. Additionally, any employee who is found not to possess valid work authorization must be terminated after their work contract expires or sooner if agreed upon by mutual consent.
- It is important to note that since this system verifies an individual’s legal status by federal law, employers are not liable for any potential unauthorized workers they hire unknowingly. However, they must ensure they are using E-Verify when deciding on a potential hire.
What is the Path to Citizenship in the Dignity Act?
The Dignity Act provides a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who pass a background check and meet certain requirements. Requirements for qualification:
- To qualify for a path to citizenship through the Dignity Act, an individual must:
- Have lived in the United States and have had lawful presence continuously since at least January 1, 2021;
- Have no criminal convictions that would make the individual ineligible;
- Demonstrate knowledge of English at a level determined to be “intermediate” by an official assessment test;
- Demonstrate knowledge of U.S. civics and history at a level determined to be “adequate” by an official assessment test; and
- Pay all taxes owed since gaining US residence, if applicable.
Applicants will receive provisional immigrant status and work towards full eligibility for lawful permanent residency for up to five years. After three additional years of permanent residency (making a total of eight years), they can apply for citizenship. The Dignity Act will provide full access to healthcare and additional benefits while on this pathway.
Path to Citizenship for Eligible Immigrants
- The Dignity Act offers a path to citizenship for eligible immigrants and guest workers who have been living and working in the U.S. continuously for at least 5 years. After passing background checks, these individuals can receive lawful permanent resident status, which allows them to live and work in the country on a more secure basis. Upon becoming lawful permanent residents, they can begin the process of naturalization, which consists of passing all required tests, demonstrating good moral character, and having knowledge of civics and the history of the United States. Those who qualify may submit an application for naturalization with specific evidence to prove their eligibility and receive a Certificate of Naturalization from USCIS.
What are the Border Security Measures outlined in the Dignity Act?
The Dignity Act seeks to protect the border by deploying a virtual wall, increasing intelligence-sharing and resources, and increasing the number of judges to handle asylum cases.
- This creates two core objectives: preventing illegal immigration while supporting legal immigration through humane and efficient methods.
To achieve this, the Dignity Act implements numerous strategies. Here are a few of them:
- Establishing an electronic employment verification system
- Strengthening the monitoring of employers to ensure they only hire people with legal status
- Providing increased resources for the detection and prosecution of smugglers
- Increasing surveillance capabilities along the southern border
- Enhancing the technological capability of Customs and Border Protection, including building a virtual wall in inaccessible areas along the border
- Implementing biometric identification for visa holders entering and departing the US through international airports
- Improving cooperation with Mexico to stop smuggling on both sides of the border
Together, these measures seek to build a more secure nation that respects the rights of both immigrant workers and those already settled in America.
Protections for Dreamers and DACA Recipients
The Dignity Act’s immigration bill, if passed, will offer Dreamers and DACA recipients the security of protection from deportation. This is in stark contrast to the current and prior administrations’ lack of protection for these youth. Dreamers and DACA Recallents receive benefits such as:
- The legal status that allows them to stay in the U.S. while they pursue their dreams
- Access to better employment opportunities
- A path to citizenship if they meet certain qualifications.
- Protection from deportation
This will provide millions of dreamers with an opportunity to live a life without fear of being separated from their families, allowing for long-term stability and economic progress. It is a major step forward for the country, allowing immigrants to seek a better future and giving them hope where none exists today.
Implications of the Dignity Act on Immigration Policies
The Dignity Act’s sweeping new immigration policies have far-reaching implications for those hoping to enter the US. Firstly, the mandatory E-Verify system requires all employers to check the government’s online database to confirm the eligibility of all their workers.
- This will help detect and reduce any abuses of the system and protect both undocumented immigrants and American citizens from having their jobs taken away and wages lowered by unauthorized foreign workers.
- The Dignity Act provides a path to citizenship for those who have lived in America for at least 10 years. This will provide such individuals with a secure place in the country, making them eligible for healthcare, government benefits, and other protections that come with citizenship. Finally, border security measures will be enhanced through additional resources that will help clamp down on illegal migration into America while also improving trade relations with Mexico and other countries in Central America.
FAQs on the Dignity Act Immigration Bill
The Dignity Act is a comprehensive immigration bill that provides several significant reform measures. To help understand the scope of this legislation, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Dignity Act:
- What is mandatory E-Verify? Mandatory E-Verify is an online system used by employers to verify workers’ identity and work eligibility. Employers must register for E-Verify and authenticate employee information before they can hire employees for full-time or part-time jobs.
- What does the path to citizenship include? The path to citizenship includes a pathway for eligible undocumented immigrants to apply for green cards, obtain lawful permanent residence, and eventually become U.S. citizens. Applicants must satisfy certain criteria, such as not having a criminal record and having lived in the U.S. continuously since December 31, 2021, among other requirements.
- What kind of border security measures does the Dignity Act implement? The Dignity Act bolsters border security by increasing resources at the US-Mexico border, including the deployment of additional customs officers, improved technology, and the implementation of drones along with physical barriers where necessary. The bill also requires enhancements to federal immigration enforcement operations throughout the United States by providing additional funding for apprehension, detention, and removal functions, as well as increased funding for investigations into illegal activity and smuggling organizations.
The Dignity Act seeks to reform our broken immigration system. The mandatory E-Verify system, path to citizenship, and border security measures will help create a system that is more humane and efficient. With these reforms, we can ensure that immigrants, especially those that are undocumented, are provided proper protection and access to resources and can contribute to the country in a safe, equitable, and dignified way. The Dignity Act marks a new era of compassionate immigration reform and provides a path to a brighter future for all.