Unauthorized Aliens: Policy Options for Providing Targeted Immigration Relief [February 13, 2013] [open pdf - 321KB]
"For many years, the unauthorized alien population has been seen as a public policy challenge. Addressing this population, estimated to number more than 11 million today, may take on added urgency in 2013 if the 113th Congress tackles comprehensive immigration reform. Despite longstanding concern about the unauthorized population, however, there has not been much discussion about its composition. While the individuals included in this population at any point in time are officially categorized as unauthorized, they may differ significantly in their particular status-related circumstances under immigration law. For example, some unauthorized aliens in the United States have U.S. citizen or LPR family members or employers who are petitioning for them to become legal permanent residents (LPRs) of the United States under current law; others have no such sponsors. The variety of status-related circumstances among unauthorized aliens warrants attention because some immigration reform policy options under discussion would make distinctions based on individual circumstances. While there continue to be proposals seeking to establish statutory legalization programs to enable large numbers of unauthorized aliens to become LPRs or, conversely, proposals aimed at promoting the departure of large numbers of unauthorized aliens from the country over time, there also has been discussion of developing policies to provide targeted immigration relief to the unauthorized alien population. 'Immigration relief' is a broad term that encompasses relief from removal from the United States without the granting of a legal immigration status as well as relief in the form of a legal immigration status, which could be a temporary immigration status or a permanent immigration status. A main focus of these various discussions about targeted relief has been limiting eligibility for legal status to certain segments of the unauthorized population. To help inform policy discussions about addressing the unauthorized alien population in these targeted ways, this report will analyze components of the unauthorized population and discuss policy options to provide relief to selected subgroups of particular congressional and public interest."
CRS Report for Congress, R42958