The Security Through Regularized Immigration and Vibrant Economy (STRIVE) Act is a balanced proposal that will regulate immigration intelligently while offering safe, legal, and orderly channels for immigrants to enter this country. Specifically, STRIVE represents a realistic solution to our immigration crisis by providing:
- A path to earned citizenship for the 12 million undocumented immigrants who are here and contributing to our society by working hard and paying taxes;
- An effective process for families to reunite with loved ones on a timely basis by eliminating arbitrary bureaucratic barriers;
- For the appropriate number of visas for future workers to come to the U.S. legally, as determined by labor needs;
- A worker visa program that adequately protects the wages and working conditions of all workers in the U.S.;
- Smart, pragmatic enforcement provisions that use technology and targeted manpower to secure our borders, targets smugglers, and increases penalties for lawbreaking employers; and
- Programs to allow more immigrants to learn English and prepare for citizenship.
STRIVE promises dividends on many fronts as a result of its pragmatic and realistic approach to reforming our immigration system. Creating an easily accessible legal path of entry into the United States for unskilled workers would dramatically shrink the flow of illegal immigrants. By replacing the current arrangement with a new one that creates realistic and enforceable laws, employers who follow the law would get the employees they need, while those who do not would get cut off from the system. This will allow for tighter controls, reduce the flow of illegal immigrants, and allow for a safe and orderly immigration process.
STRIVE calls for securing borders through smart technology, anti-smuggling provisions, information-sharing, and coordination between international and federal-state-local officials and agencies. STRIVE will increase the number of border enforcement personnel and boost the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and other surveillance technology. The Department of Homeland Security would be required to develop a national strategy for border security and submit a detailed report regarding this strategy to Congress within one year of enactment. This bill would encourage the creation of partnerships toward establishing a North American security perimeter, as well as border security improvement in countries south of Mexico.
STRIVE states that immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are not counted in the 480,000 annual limit on family-sponsored green cards. This would enable more individuals to receive visas in family preference categories. The per-country cap on green cards would also be increased to reduce backlogs. Lastly, the cap on employment-based categories that hire permanent workers would be raised from 140,000 to 290,000 people.
STRIVE would create a new temporary visa (H-2C) for workers taking jobs that require minimal skills. A future worker would have to demonstrate that they have a job offer, pay a $500 application fee, and clear all security, medical, and other checks. Foreign workers could enroll in the H-2C program only after the job slot went unfilled by current U.S. workers and there was no demonstrated wage depression or job displacement.
If a temporary worker were to lose their job, they would have 60 days to find a new job or return to his or her home country. The initial cap on workers in this category would be 400,000, to be adjusted based on annual demand. Workers would receive a 3-year visa and have the possibility of a one-time 3-year renewal. After their visa expires, the immigrant would be required to return to his or her home country or be in the process of receiving a green card. After five years working in the U.S., the employer could sponsor a visa holder for a green card, or the worker could self-petition for a $500 fee.
Individuals already living and working in the U.S. could register for a six-year temporary visa. Applicants who show a work history, a clean criminal record, and no security risk would be eligible for this visa. Those eligible would receive travel and work authorization, and the option to apply to have their spouses and children accompany them. To qualify for permanent status, workers would have to meet employment or education requirements, clear security and background checks, pay substantial fines, application fees, and back taxes, and meet English and civics requirements.
The earned legalization provisions of STRIVE are enhanced by including immigrant student provisions from the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. The DREAM Act would grant qualified immigrant children the opportunity to earn legal permanent resident status and eventual citizenship.
STRIVE would allow for faster integration of new immigrants by creating a public-private foundation under the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to fund programs that promote citizenship and English language instruction for immigrants.