Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) plan to bring together a group of senators interested in trying to revive immigration discussions after the April recess. They “want to sit at a table and ask members who have immigration, bipartisan immigration bills, to come and propose those bills to us and see if we can build a 60-vote plus margin for a group of bills.”

Are they serious about immigration reform, or are they just doing this so they will be able to say in the upcoming midterm elections that they sponsored a number of immigration reform bills?

It won’t take much effort to repackage bills that have already been introduced.

In any case, they seem at least to be open to a variety of approaches to immigration reform, so I will take this opportunity to offer them a few suggestions.

Registry — The Democrats tried to include a registry provision update in a reconciliation bill in September 2021, but the Senate parliamentarian made them remove it. That was unfortunate. The registry provision has not been updated since 1986.

The registry provision grants lawful permanent resident status to certain undocumented immigrants who have resided continuously in the United States since before Jan. 1, 1972. This means that registry currently is available only to undocumented immigrants who have lived here continuously for half a century, which greatly reduces the value of the provision.

The Democrats went too far in the other direction with the update they put in the reconciliation bill. It would have changed this date to Jan. 1, 2011, which would make legalization available to approximately 6.7 million undocumented immigrants.

At some point, an undocumented immigrant has been here so long that it would be unconscionable to make him leave. It’s just a matter of reaching an agreement on when that point has been reached.

I encourage the senators to include the registry provision in their bipartisan discussion to see if there is a date that would be acceptable to both parties.

Published originally on The Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him at