Even without the cutoff, many people will not be eligible for “Registered Provisional Immigrant” status. People with serious criminal records are excluded and those who cannot demonstrate they have incomes 125 percent above the poverty line or hold a steady job would lose the legal classification. A recent analysis by the Social Security Administration put the number of undocumented residents in the United States at 11.5 million, of whom 8 million will seek and be granted legal status.
Barron said word of the cutoff date has spread through the immigrant community but he cautions people who would not qualify about sticking around. “Our advice is not to risk staying illegally because you will probably not be able to come back again,” if caught and deported.
Overall, Barron said the cutoff date, while not perfect, is a “healthy compromise.”
Agudel Serrano, who arrived in the United States illegally last year from El Salvador, said he first heard about immigration reform on the radio in Texas.
“It’s a shame,” he said when told he would not qualify under the current Senate proposal. “There are too many of us who have come over here after that date and all of us desire to have a permit or be legal. I simply came to look for a better future.”
Faced with tougher prospects of making that future, Serrano, 39, said he would probably go home. “It’s scary to walk without documents ... fearing immigration or the police, not have a license. You can’t really get anything, so why frustrate yourself like that?”
Contact Alex Leary at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @learyreports.