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How Does Immigration Amnesty Work?

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Immigration amnesty is not a new concept in the United States. The idea has been kicked around by various politicians and groups since the mid-1980s, particularly in states where the population of undocumented immigrants is high.

In the past few years, the concept has come to the forefront of many discussions about immigration law, and opinions are unsurprisingly mixed. However, few people really understand how immigration amnesty really works, including undocumented immigrants that would be affected by it and people who live in states with the highest population of undocumented immigrants.

It should be noted that the idea of immigration amnesty at this point is simply an idea – but it is an idea that has a lot of traction within the Obama administration, and amnesty is a potential option in the future.

What Is Amnesty?

There are between 11 million and 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States as of March 2013. Those numbers are average estimates, and some people believe there are as many as 15 million undocumented immigrants in the United States living on the fringes of society.

The basic idea behind immigration amnesty is that the undocumented immigrant population would not be under threat of deportation, and would be allowed to become active, recognized members of the United States instead of hiding in the shadows.

The amnesty program, if turned into law, would allow almost all undocumented immigrants in the United States to remain in the country, though they would be required to do certain things in order to become eligible for the amnesty program.

Immigrants May Pay a Fine

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The Obama administration has repeatedly said that undocumented immigrants that remain in the United States under the amnesty program would be required to pay a fine for coming to the United States illegally. As of 2013, no specific amount for the fine has been discussed, or how the fine would be charged and collected is still widely debated.

Some believe that fines should be based on years spent in the United States, while others believe this fine could be unnecessarily punitive for people that have been in the United States illegally for more than a few years.

Immigrants Will Be Required to Learn English

As part of the amnesty program, President Barack Obama has said that undocumented immigrants who want to become part of the legal population will need to learn English and pass a test. As of 2013, the test hasn’t been heavily discussed, but many assume it will be similar to the English skills test given to individuals applying for naturalization in the U.S.

Is Immigration Amnesty Right for the United States?

Whether or not immigration amnesty is right for the United States is a very controversial subject. Some immigration rights groups believe amnesty is still too restrictive – detractors believe that amnesty could make the U.S. economy worse and open the floodgates for immigrants from all over the world to come to the United States illegally, knowing that they won’t face deportation or other consequences.

Proponents of immigration amnesty believe that it’s only fair for illegal immigrants, who have been in the United States, working to support our economy – and the statistics show that undocumented immigrants contribute positively to the economy.

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