Amnesty is a process for allowing illegal immigrants to gain legal status to remain the US. At various times in the past ten years, bills have been presented and laws have been suggested which would allow illegal immigrants to apply for amnesty in order to remain in the US and in order to gain legal immigration status. However, these plans have not come to fruition and there is currently no blanket program for immigration amnesty.
The amnesty programs which have been suggested would allow undocumented immigrants to gain legal status just by applying for amnesty and paying a fine. One program proposed allowing low-cost laborers into the country under a special visa to thwart the flow of undocumented workers across the border. Advocates of immigration amnesty programs claim that such programs would discourage illegal immigration and would make the country safer by allowing authorities to track all immigrants. These advocates also believe that immigration amnesty is the more compassionate choice and would allow families to stay together. Currently, some children who are born in the US and are therefore US citizens have parents who are in the country illegally, creating a precarious legal situation.
Opponents of immigration amnesty programs, however, claim that such programs send the wrong message about US immigration. Opponents note that allowing illegal immigrants to apply for amnesty is an affront to the immigrants who have applied correctly to immigrate to the US and have been turned down. By allowing illegal immigrants to gain legal status, some claim, the US is sending the message that illegal immigration is ok and will not be punished.
If you are in the country illegally and wish to apply for amnesty, your best option is to speak with a qualified immigration attorney. An attorney can advise you of your rights and can suggest a course of action so that you can gain legal immigration status in the US. The worst thing to do is to continue to live in the US as an undocumented immigrant. This is dangerous as it subjects you to deportation, fines, and penalties. Instead, speak with a good immigration attorney who can help you apply for legal status. You may need to briefly leave the US and re-enter, but gaining legal status is important and well worth the work with an immigration attorney. A good attorney can present your case before USCIS authorities and can help you apply for a visa or a green card, if you are eligible.