Critics of a GOP proposal designed to halt future waves of illegal immigration say it would actually target the 11 million unauthorized immigrants already living in the country, opening them up to prosecutions if the bill becomes law.

“Snap your fingers and they would all be criminals,” said Kamal Essaheb, an immigration policy attorney with the National Immigration Law Center, which opposes the measure.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who chairs the chamber’s immigration subcommittee, are proposing a measure that makes it a federal crime – a misdemeanor – to be “unlawfully present in the United States.”

It is already a federal misdemeanor crime under current law to illegally enter the United States. The proposal would make it a crime if someones stays beyond their visa, and it would eliminate a current five-year statute of limitations on prosecution of such crimes.

via House proposal to further criminalize illegal immigration criticized.