Undocumented immigrants who have been living in the United States for more than five years may soon have a chance to improve their circumstances. The government is considering a program called the Dignity Program, aiming to offer these immigrants an opportunity to work, make things right, and earn legal status.
To be part of the program, applicants must abide by all federal and state laws, pass a criminal background check, and settle any outstanding taxes or debts they owe. They will also need to pay $5,000 over a period of seven years as a form of compensation. Every two years, they will need to report to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to ensure they are complying with the law and living responsibly.
Importantly, participants in the Dignity Program will not qualify for specific federal benefits or assistance based on financial need.
Upon successfully completing the Dignity Program, participants have two choices: Dignity Status or the Redemption Program.
Dignity Status grants recipients a five-year period to legally reside and work in the United States. However, they will not be eligible for citizenship or means-tested benefits and assistance. Dignity Status can be renewed indefinitely as long as individuals continue to abide by the law.
The Redemption Program is an alternative for Dignity recipients seeking permanent legal status. It requires an additional commitment of five years, totaling seven years in the Dignity Program. To join the Redemption Program, participants must learn English, familiarize themselves with U.S. civics, and contribute to their community through either community service or an additional $5,000 in compensation payments. Successful completion of the Redemption Program provides them with legal permanent resident status, making them eligible for existing pathways to citizenship. However, they will need to wait their turn in the process.
The government aims to offer respect and an opportunity for redemption to undocumented immigrants who have been living in the U.S. for an extended period. This program strives to help them enhance their legal status and become valued members of society.