This morning on the Senate floor, Gang of Eight member Senator John McCain declared that the Gang’s immigration bill needed to pass in order to remove a “very huge stain on the conscience of the United States of America.” He also made the following statement about the bill’s path to citizenship: “Anyone who has committed crimes in this country is going to be deported.” That’s not what the Gang of Eight bill says (see Section 2101). The bill bars criminals from gaining legalization only when the individual has committed “3 or more misdemeanors . . . if the alien was convicted on different dates for each of the 3 offenses.” The bill text also exempts many immigration-related and most “minor” traffic crimes from that three-strike rule.
So under the bill, an illegal immigrant could be convicted of two misdemeanors (or even more misdemeanors if those crimes were committed on the same incident) and still receive amnesty. In Senator McCain’s home state of Arizona, misdemeanors include certain kinds of assault, theft, arson, intimidation, and bribery. So an illegal immigrant could commit multiple crimes in Arizona and still get Registered Provisional Immigrant status.
And, yes, the secretary of homeland security also has the ability to waive some of those limits on criminal convictions.