NACo watching Senate immigration bill
Proposed immigration reform legislation in the Senate may include a grant program for state and local governments to pay for health and education costs related to the guest worker or legalization programs that the bill would establish, according to The Washington-based National Association of Counties (NACo). The 26-page immigration reform outline, released late last month, calls for increased border enforcement, guest worker programs and a two-step process for undocumented immigrants to follow to earn legalization.
While the grant program is not mentioned in the current version of the legislation, Senate staff has indicated to NACo that the provision will be included in the bill, according to NACo's associate legislative director Marilina Sanz in an article on NACo's Web site. Also, previous Senate immigration bills contained a guaranteed funding stream paid for by the fees collected from undocumented immigrants seeking legal status under the legislation, Sanz says.
The legislation would establish eight benchmarks that must be met by the federal government before an earned legalization program can be implemented, Sanz says. "These include increased Border Patrol, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and inspectors, and improved technology," Sanz wrote in her article. "The proposal would also authorize the secretary of homeland security to deploy the National Guard at the borders when needed. The proposal would also prohibit state and local governments from enacting immigration restrictions and penalties, a response to the recent Arizona legislation [that requires police in that state to request proof of legal residency from people they suspect are in the country illegally]."
The bill also includes an impact aid program for counties and cities on the country's southern and northern borders to lessen the effects of illegal border crossings. The proposal doesn't say how much funding would be available for that purpose.
Two NACo resolutions passed in March call on Congress and President Obama to enact comprehensive immigration reform this year. They ask that the legislation provides for uniform enforcement of all existing laws; secures the nation's borders; includes a national strategy for coordination among federal, state, local and tribal authorities; establishes a sensible and orderly guest worker program for legal immigrants; imposes no unfunded mandates on state and local governments; includes no mandates on counties to enforce immigration laws; and provides a sustainable funding stream to counties for immigrant health care funded by fees levied on legalized immigrants.
Read Sanz's entire article.