As the Senate advances controversial Bill S. 744, an overhaul for immigration reform, a debate has cropped up over the punishment for illegal aliens convicted for misdemeanors and seeking citizenship in the United States.
Sen. John McCain, a member of the bipartisan “gang of eight” proposing the bill in the Senate, announced that, “Anyone who has committed crimes in this country is going to be deported.”
However, according to the Washington Examiner, recent investigations show that an immigrant living in this country with up to three misdemeanors could still qualify for citizenship. According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, these illegal immigrants could even have their convictions exonerated.
The bill allows some illegal immigrants with up to three misdemeanors to remain eligible for Registered Provisional Status.
Under current legislation, illegal immigrants convicted of certain misdemeanors are deported. The reform proposed in the Senate affords the accused a hearing and a public attorney to present their case. Furthermore, the bill includes some minor felonies if the accused illegal immigrant has a wife or children in the United States. Essentially, the current reform bill affords judges greater discretion in determining whether deportation imposes undue hardship on the convicted alien.
Advocates of the more lenient reform bill argue that particular convictions and illegal immigration are two different offenses that must be treated as such.
If passed in both houses, the differences in the House and Senate bills, will be reconciled in committee.