A close analysis of the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill (S.744) shows that despite promises by Senators in the Gang of Eight, illegal aliens will in fact not be required to learn English at any time during the amnesty process.

First, illegal aliens are not required to learn English when they apply for amnesty, called “registered provisional immigrant” status (RPI status).  The eligibility requirements are relatively straightforward. To be eligible for RPI status, an alien must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the alien:

  • Is physically present in the U.S. on the date of application;
  • Has been physically present in the U.S. on or before 12/31/11, except for “brief, casual, and innocent” absences;  and
  • Has maintained continuous physical presence (except absences up to 180 days) in the U.S. from Dec. 31, 2011 until receiving RPI status.  (Sec. 2101, INA245B(b), p.60-68)

Nowhere in S.744 is there a requirement that illegal aliens learn English in order to get amnesty.

Moreover, S.744 does not require that illegal aliens learn English to renew their RPI status (which lasts for six years and is renewable indefinitely). To renew RPI status, an alien must simply establish that he/she:

  • Remains eligible for RPI status;
  • Has not had his/her RPI status revoked;
  • Meets employment or education requirements, which are waivable;
  • Has satisfied any federal tax liability that has been “assessed” (meaning the IRS has officially recorded that the alien owes it taxes – see my previous blog on tax liability);
  • Pays a processing fee, which is waivable. (p.83); and
  • Pays a $1,000 penalty.

(Sec. 2101, INA 245B(c)(9), p.79-84)

In fact, the only English requirement  the Gang of Eight bill imposes on any illegal alien going through the amnesty process comes when the alien applies for a green card—if he chooses to do so.   However, an alien may satisfy the English requirement necessary for obtaining a green card by establishing merely  that :

  • The alien meets the English and civics requirements for naturalization under INA § 312, OR
  • The alien Is satisfactorily pursuing a course of study “to achieve an understanding of English and knowledge and understanding” of civics  (p. 103)

Thus, even at the point of getting a green card –10 years into the future – an illegal alien who received amnesty must only show that he is studying English and civics.