So the road to permanent resident status that Rubio said would take a decade will take only five years for currently illegal immigrants who have done some work in agriculture.
A second provision in the legislation creates another fast track for illegal immigrants who came to the United States before they were 16 — the so-called Dreamers.
The bill gives them, and their spouses and children, permanent resident status after five years. To get that, they have to have completed high school or earned an equivalency degree. In addition, the bill says the immigrant must have a college degree, or completed two years of college, or served in the U.S. military for at least four years.
That requirement is often cited by Dream Act supporters to show the tough standards immigrants must meet. But the very next section of the bill outlines a “hardship exception,” which says the immigrant may be awarded permanent legal status if he or she has not completed college, or not completed two years of college, or not served in the military at all.
Together, the agricultural and Dreamer exceptions could affect millions of currently illegal immigrants. The bottom line is that what Rubio claimed would be a long and arduous path to legal residency and then citizenship will be much shorter for some than for others.
(Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.)