WASHINGTON (CBS4) – The U.S. immigration system would undergo dramatic changes if a new bill being introduced is passed, but before anything else happens there must be a plan to secure the border.

The Department of Homeland Security has six months to come up with a plan that ensures 100 percent surveillance of the border and catches 90 percent of people trying to cross. The bill to be introduced next week includes $4.5 billion for new fencing, patrols and drones, and it requires all U.S. employers to use the federal E-Verify system to detect illegal workers.

Only after those criteria are met would people be able to apply for provisional legal status, allowing them to work and travel, but not access federal benefits like welfare.

After 10 years people could apply for green cards. And three years later they could apply for citizenship. Children brought to the U.S. illegally and farm workers would be eligible in five years.

In all, the process could cost individuals more than $2,000.

Anyone convicted of a felony, three or more misdemeanors, or who arrived after Dec. 31, 2011 would be barred.

Border Patrol (credit: CBS)

Border Patrol (credit: CBS)

The bill also seeks to change future immigration by putting more emphasis on job skills rather than family ties. Visas for highly skilled workers in technology would nearly double. There would be no limit to the number of green cards awarded to people with extraordinary skills in science or the arts. And there would be new start-up visas for foreign entrepreneurs.

The bill also includes two new guest worker programs for farm workers and other low-wage seasonal laborers.


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