Fantastic News on Immigration

The immigration

agreement which has been hammered out between the Senate and the White House

is some of the best news I’ve heard in ages, and I’m keeping lots of fingers

and toes crossed that somehow it makes its way into law.

There’s some very clever stuff in the agreement, and I’m particularly impressed

with the new Z visa:

The proposed agreement would allow illegal immigrants to come forward and

obtain a "Z visa" and — after paying fees and a $5,000 fine —

ultimately get on track for permanent residency, which could take between

eight and 13 years. Heads of household would have to return to their home

countries first. They could come forward right away to claim a probationary

card that would let them live and work legally in the U.S., but could not

begin the path to permanent residency or citizenship until border security

improvements and the high-tech worker identification program were completed.

The great thing about the Z visa is that once illegal immigrants get one, they’ll

be able to go back to their home countries without worrying that if they do

so they might never be able to make it back into the US. As a result, a large

number of immigrants will start moving out of the US, partially offsetting the

number of immigrants coming in.

There’s good news on the skilled-immigrant

front, too:

In perhaps the most hotly debated change, the proposed plan would shift from

an immigration system primarily weighted toward family ties toward one with

preferences for people with advanced degrees and sophisticated skills.

Now that Democrats control the House, I’m hopeful that this bill can get passed,

albeit in the face of a lot of noise about "amnesties" and whatnot.

If George Bush wants to leave any kind of positive legacy for his country, he’d

do well to spend a lot of political capital here.

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