Maria Elvira Salazar proposes pathway to citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally

In return, she wants money paid for workforce programs and border security.

U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar unveiled immigration legislation that could create a new path to citizenship while strengthening the border. The Miami Republican said she worked for the past year on the Dignity Act, a 532-page comprehensive reform package.

Salazar said the legislation could both “end illegal immigration once and for all” by modernizing the U.S. Border Patrol while also bringing 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally out from the shadows.

“The United States has historically been a beacon of refuge for those fleeing violence and oppression or seeking a new life and opportunities,” Salazar said. “In recent decades, our broken immigration system has been exploited, leading to a situation that is unbecoming of our great nation. While the United States is a nation of laws, we are also a nation of second chances. Through dignity and a chance at redemption, this legacy can continue.”

In short, the bill would create a program that allows immigrants in the U.S. illegally to stay and work in the U.S. at a cost of $1,000 annually for up to 10 years. Money raised through that would fund workforce training programs available to U.S. workers now.

“If you feel the undocumented have taken your job away, you can tap into these programs and learn a new trade,” she said. “It will help you fund a new job while the undocumenteds still do those jobs that Americans have up to now opted not to do.”

Workers in the “dignity path” would work legally, with 2% of their income taxed to directly fund border security. Those in the program could then sign up for a five-year “redemption program” to learn English and U.S. Civics and contribute additional funds and community service to obtain permanent legal status. Dreamers already in the U.S. legally could immediately move toward completing the redemption program.

But it remains unclear what path exists to pass this legislation, whether in a Democrat-controlled Congress this year or if Republicans take control of the House after the November election. Salazar said she welcomes Democrats to join with the legislation, and acknowledged many in her own party who oppose anything labeled as “amnesty.”

“The word ‘amnesty’ is very popular in Congress,” Salazar said. “I have asked some to explain with a rigorous definition what it means. Nobody can give it to me.”

But she contended the real comparable program to amnesty is what exists now, with 11 million immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally using roads, schools and hospitals without contributing to the tax base.

“Living for free without consequence is the real amnesty,” she said.

But to sweeten the proposed reform for hardline conservatives, Salazar’s legislation offers significant deterrents to illegal immigration now. Her bill calls for universal E-Verify requirements on all employers, restarting construction of the border wall and investing in modern technology such as drones to better patrol and block illegal entry to the U.S.

Salazar wants tougher penalties on human smugglers and drug traffickers, including immediate deportation for criminals.

She also wants improved processing centers to handle legitimate asylum claims and more judges to process cases.

Will Democrats sign on? Salazar thinks they should, and that this plan would be more likely to pass in a divided Senate.

“For the last 10 years they haven’t had the votes in the Senate,” she said. “Democrats pass bills and provisions they know are not going to pass. Enough of this game.”

As the issue drags, a porous border meanwhile sees increased trafficking of fentanyl and other drugs harming U.S. communities. Republicans, Salazar said, want to get that problem under control.

So will there be enough support to move the legislation forward? “The only one who knows the answer to that is the Lord Almighty,” she said.

But she noted the last federal action to allow undocumented workers from the shadows was President Ronald Reagan’s immigration reform bill in 1986 that offered amnesty to any undocumented workers who entered the country before 1982.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • politics

    February 8, 2022 at 7:49 pm

    Please it was a sales tactic for flipping hamburgers.and picking leaves. you did not say high technology jobs.
    Give the illegal your news and politic job.
    because flipping burgs but too embarrassing.and not the culture.and you never get a real date or a life and when you look at the check it is disappointing.smells like depression all the way around. and then you get diagnosed and then you get meds then you get fat and now you cant get off the couch oh right rents are too high what couch? If you are going migration they better know it is 15,000 a month for a family of 3 maybe 4

  • politics

    February 8, 2022 at 9:29 pm

    This is o.k citizenship people come in droves anyway it is how many you can support ..And why are they paying for the wall? opportunity means higher wage jobs.not what jobs America does not do. opportunity includes science,politics,food chains,stores,government work,leadership,better writing then this,,investment,banking and math. And this has always been the argument under pricing then get ahead. Just like china is doing Just like people complain of out sourcing

  • politics

    February 9, 2022 at 8:26 am

    P.s these people have to understand opportunity they make way for themselves not you make way for them.People are leaving the us rearranging the stock markets if you need another person to support you you might become sol

  • politics

    February 9, 2022 at 8:30 am

    this is no more free all the land is taken.with lots of laws. the only free is your land ownership and self sufficiency on it that is your well, your crops ,your building your own, cut down trees.
    this is land of corps and

  • Tajuden Ahmed

    February 16, 2022 at 1:25 pm

    Iam elated to getting this opportunity.

  • Tajuden Ahmed

    February 16, 2022 at 1:26 pm

    Iam elated to getting this opportunity

Comments are closed.


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