Robles said there are those in Congress who are finding excuses to not pass the bill. She believes federal immigration policies are "archaic" and need updating.
Utah's approach to immigration is unmatched by other states, she said, citing the comprehensive immigration package passed in 2011.
As it stands now, federal immigration reform allows those who are not in the United States legally to apply for citizenship within 13 years, would allocate funding to block off the border between the United States and Mexico, would require business owners in the U.S. to check the immigration status of employees and would allow for short-term visas to bring in high-tech and low-skilled workers.
To qualify, those applying for citizenship who did not enter the U.S. by legal means would have 10 years of temporary legal status, need to pass a criminal background check, learn English, and pay taxes, fees and $2,000 in fines.
Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced amendments to the bill Wednesday that they said would strengthen the proposed reform. They include preventing noncitizens from receiving welfare benefits and payment of back and current taxes owed by those applying for citizenship. Those who are working toward legal citizenship will have to wait five years before they are eligible for federally funded healthcare. The final amendment inhibits undocumented workers from claiming Social Security benefits.
“These are thoughtful amendments that ensure a basic fairness for both those wanting to become American citizens, and for American taxpayers. Senator Rubio understands that, and I hope our colleagues join us in supporting them,” Hatch said.
This was only one of several bumps in progress during hearings Wednesday, according to CNN. Sens. John Grassley, R-Iowa, John Cornyn, R-Texas, also proposed amendments. These would strengthen border security between the U.S. and Mexico. Cornyn's amendment would require 90 percent of illegal border crossings to be prevented by the government before the other reform items related to immigrants could begin. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, called this amendment a "poison pill" for comprehensive reform.
On Sunday, Utah business owners called for comprehensive immigration reform in a full-page advertisement in the Deseret News. They asked the state's lawmakers to "move forward with what is practical and in the best interest of the nation." The Salt Lake Chamber and the Partnership for a New American Economy joined with almost 50 others in signing a letter addressed to Utah senators and representatives.
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