Health Center Federal Policy

Senate Immigration Legislation Unveiled

Last Wednesday morning, a bipartisan group of eight Senators introduced the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. This bill, developed by Senators Schumer (D-NY), McCain (R-AZ), Durbin (D-IL), Graham (R-SC), Menendez (D-NJ), Rubio (R-FL), Bennet (D-CO), and Flake (R-AZ), is just the starting point for immigration reform discussions in the Senate.
The legislation focuses largely on border security and the initial years of implementation will focus on securing the border and eliminating the backlog of current Lawful Permanent Residents who are applying for citizenship. Accordingly, the bill contains instructions and requirements to expedite and streamline the current path to citizenship for current Lawful Permanent Residents, including adjusting the number and types of available visas. It also creates a pathway for currently undocumented persons living in the United States to gain “Registered Provisional Immigrant Status” once border security requirements are established and well underway. There are a number of requirements and fees associated with gaining RPI status, however after a period of 10 years individuals with RPI status could transition to Lawful Permanent Resident Status in order to begin the process that would eventually result in a green card.
Of note, individuals in RPI Status would not be permitted to access health care coverage in the Exchange—even if purchased with their own money—nor would they be able to access Medicaid or Medicare benefits. Lawful Permanent Residents who become citizens in an expedited manner will, however, become eligible for such benefits sooner than they otherwise would be. This proposal is just the starting point for immigration discussions and that all of this remains on the table. Numerous Senators and Senate Committees have already staked a claim on wanting to make sure their input is considered and Members in the House are beginning their initial discussions as well. We at NACHC are focused on the ongoing discussions and plan to be engaged as the process continues over the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available!