Immigrants’ Pathways to Legal Permanent Residence: Now and under the Proposed Points System

Joseph M. Hayes, Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)
Laura Hill, Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)

The defeat of the comprehensive federal immigration reform bill this spring provides an opportunity to analyze the current immigration process and inform subsequent debate on the issue, which is certain to resurface. This paper addresses two key elements of the reform debate: offering an opportunity for the undocumented to gain some form of legal status, and changing the priorities we use to admit legal permanent residents (LPR). Using data from the first full cohort of the New Immigrant Survey (NIS-2003), we explore immigrants’ various legal and extra-legal routes (called “pathways”) to establishing LPR status, and cross-tabulate these pathways with nationality, employment and migration history, and social background. In addition, we apply the reform bill’s proposed point-ranking system, which weights educational attainment and occupation more heavily than family reunification, to the 2003 cohort of LPRs to estimate how many would qualify under a scenario like the one considered this spring.

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Presented in Poster Session 7