Press Releases

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today will introduce an amendment to S. 744, “The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” that would eliminate a loophole undermining the bill’s new requirement that residential provisional immigrants (RPI’s) must achieve English language proficiency as a condition for earning permanent residency (a green card). Under current law, English proficiency is only required for citizenship, not permanent residency.

“On the day we announced the principles that would shape the immigration bill, we made it clear that English proficiency would now be required for permanent residency for the first time in American history,” said Rubio. “This amendment ensures that will be the case.

“Since the bill was introduced two months ago, the open and transparent process it has undergone has elicited constructive criticisms to improve it,” added Rubio. “This is one of the bill’s shortcomings that came to light, which we can now fix.”

The current version of S. 744 requires that “a registered provisional immigrant who is 16 years of age or older shall establish that he or she (i) meets the requirements set forth in section 312; or (ii) is satisfactorily pursuing a course of study, pursuant to standards established by the Secretary of Education, consultation with the Secretary, to achieve an understanding of English and knowledge and understanding of the history and Government of the United States, as described in section 312(a).”

Section 312 of the Immigration and Nationality Act stipulates that “(a) No person except as otherwise provided in this title shall hereafter be naturalized as a citizen of the United States upon his own application who cannot demonstrate - (1) an understanding of the English language, including an ability to read, write, and speak words in ordinary usage in the English language: Provided, That the requirements of this paragraph relating to ability to read and write shall be met if the applicant can read or write simple words and phrases to the end that a reasonable test of his literacy shall be made and that no extraordinary or unreasonable conditions shall be imposed upon the applicant; and (2) a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, and of the principles and form of government, of the United States.”

The proposed Rubio amendment would strike provision “(ii)”, which stipulates that the English proficiency requirement can simply be met by being enrolled in a course.