The Dignity Act’s vision for border security and legal status
Immigration emerges as a contentious issue that demands a productive, non-partisan solution. As the 2024 election season looms, an important question arises: Will we be ready to address the next crisis at the border?
Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar and Cesar Grajales, director of public affairs at The LIBRE Initiative, advocate the Dignity Act in a recent op-ed, “America deserves an immigration solution: the Dignity Act.”
The Dignity Act is a bipartisan effort that aims to address border security, revise the asylum system, streamline employment-based immigration, and offer unauthorized immigrants an opportunity to right their status with the law.
The pair talk about two major programs the bill carries that also benefit taxpayers.
A seven-year “Dignity Program” would require applicants to pay a $5,000 fee and check in with the Department of Homeland Security every two years. Petitioners would be barred if they committed a felony or two misdemeanors and would be required to attend school or have a job for four of the seven years. Successful completion of the program would allow them to renew their status every five years.
Anyone eligible for a legalization program who fails to apply is required to leave the country.
Those who complete the Dignity Program can enter a five-year “Redemption Program,” earning permanent legal status by learning English and civics and paying a $5,000 fee or completing 200 hours of community service.
All of this comes at no expense to American taxpayers. The programs would be paid for by a 1.5% tax on individuals given work authorization under the Dignity Program. Those benefiting will pay their own way.
The redemption program won’t start until the Government Accountability Office can confirm that 90% of people crossing the border are identified and caught within a year. Right now, that rate stands at 74%.
Salazar and Grajales close with this:
We need innovative solutions to address the next border crisis before the crisis is upon us. We do that by enhancing border security, improving the legal immigration system, and providing certainty to those who have lived their lives in our country.