Representatives Veronica Escobar and Maria Elvira Salazar recently introduced the Dignity Act 2023, a comprehensive immigration bill, with the goals of stopping illegal immigration, providing a solution for the undocumented, strengthening the U.S. workforce, and growing the economy.
However, there is one labor provision that stands out for its relative originality: the Dignity Program, which would grant work authorization to undocumented immigrants if they meet certain conditions. At Jaskot Law we will analyze this new attempt at an immigration reform 2023.
What is the Dignity Act 2023?
The Dignity Act 2023 is comprehensive immigration legislation recently introduced in the House of Representatives. Its main objective is to address the problem of illegal immigration in the United States, offering a solution for undocumented immigrants already in the country and fostering economic growth.
It proposes a series of labor provisions, such as reforms to the H-2B and H-2A work visas and H-2A, as well as an increase in employment-based visas. However, one labor provision in particular stands out as relatively original: the Dignity Program.
What is the Dignity Program about?
The Dignity Program is an integral part of the Dignity Act 2023. This program would be established for a period of seven years and would grant work authorization and protection from deportation proceedings to undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for more than five years.
In addition, the Redemption Program would grant residency and travel authorization. This would have an additional duration of five years and would provide participants with a pathway to permanent legal status, requiring additional payment or community service hours.
Requirements to qualify for Dignity Status under the Dignity Act 2023
To qualify for Dignity Status under the Dignity Act 2023, applicants must meet a number of requirements set forth in the legislation itself. The main requirements are detailed below:
- U.S. Residency: Applicants must have lived in the United States for a period of time of more than five years.
- Compliance with U.S. Laws: Applicants must have complied with all U.S. laws and regulations during their stay in the United States.
- Background Checks: A comprehensive background check will be required to assess the suitability of applicants. This involves investigating the applicant’s criminal history and other relevant aspects of the applicant’s life.
- Payment of back taxes: Applicants must pay the back taxes corresponding to the periods in which they did not comply with their tax obligations.
- Payment of income taxes: In addition to back taxes, applicants will be required to begin paying income taxes on a regular basis.
- Initial fine: Applicants will be required to pay an initial fine, the amount of which is not specified in the legislative text.
- Restitution” Payments: During the course of the Dignity Program, participants will be required to make “restitution” payments. The amount and frequency of these payments are not specified in the legislative text.
It is important to note that the legislation may contain additional requirements or conditions that are not specifically mentioned in this summary and may be modified at a later date.
What are “restitution” payments?
The Dignity Act 2023 provides for so-called “restitution” payments made to the U.S. taxpayer as part of the Redemption Program. These payments are intended to give undocumented immigrants a second chance to comply with the law.
While the Dignity Act 2023 does not yet detail the amount and timing of the “restitution” payments, it is certain that the proceeds will go to the American Worker Fund, which is intended to subsidize job education and apprenticeship initiatives for Native workers.
While many questions remain about some key points of the Dignity Act, its offer of political compromise can serve as a model for future immigration reform in 2023. This could be a first step towards a comprehensive approach to immigration issues, as well as a great help to many undocumented migrants.
On the other hand, by attempting to address the fact that immigration complements rather than displaces native workers, the provision is more likely to garner the level of support necessary to finally pass some form of comprehensive immigration reform. From Jaskot Law we will closely follow the developments of this new legislation and its impact on the U.S. immigration system.