May 28, 2013 - Posted by Communications Intern
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“Christians across the country have come together, putting our faith into action for 11 million people that our Scriptures call ‘strangers.’ We have worked and prayed hard for reform and have urged our nation’s political leaders to enact immigration reform that keeps families together and provides an earned pathway to citizenship while also ensuring the safety of our borders. We won’t stop speaking, acting and praying for our immigrant brothers and sisters until we see this vital reform signed into law.”
—Rev. Jim Wallis, President and CEO of Sojourners, in reaction to the Senate Judiciary Committee sending the immigration bill to the Senate floor
Leaders across the Spectrum Keep Up the Momentum During Recess
On May 21 the Senate Judiciary Committee sent the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, S. 744, on to the full Senate in a bipartisan 13-5 vote. With debate in the full Senate ahead, Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform (BBB) and Evangelical Immigration Table leaders are making sure their elected officials hear their support for reform during this week’s congressional recess.
The BBB network is holding events in Kansas City, with leaders from both Missouri and Kansas; Indiana; and California. Meanwhile, the Evangelical Immigration Table is set to announce nationwide radio ads focusing on the Pray for Reform campaign and the continuing push for reform during a press call Thursday — just as local Pray for Reform events kick off around the country.
The bill now goes to the Congressional Budget Office for “scoring,” and it likely will reach the Senate floor in early to mid June. In the Judiciary Committee, most amendments that passed did so in bipartisan fashion, and the bill remains strong following the markup process.
CALENDAR:Please visit our Events page to find this week's immigration-related events.
Summary of immigration legislation introduced and government reports on immigration:
MUST READ: HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Cruz’s attempt to strip citizenship provision from immigration reform fails — in a big way
By Corey Kane
May 21, 2013
A series of ambitious amendments by the Texas senators to significantly reshape immigration reform failed today, with several Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee joining a solid bloc of Democrats in foiling the efforts by Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.
The most controversial was an attempt by Cruz to strip the path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants. The Houston Republican’s amendment, defeated on a lopsided 13-5 vote, would have allowed unauthorized immigrants to stay as legal permanent residents. Cruz passionately defended his proposal to the very end, saying a path to citizenship would encourage more illegal immigration.
While all of Cruz’s proposals were voted down by a bipartisan coalition of reform backers, Cornyn did succeed in attaching one amendment to assist victims of some crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.
Cruz said he knew in advance that the committee would decide to reject his proposals, but he warned his Senate colleagues of the consequences of their action.
“In my view that decision will make it much, much more likely that this entire bill will fail in the House of Representatives,” Cruz said.
Cruz’s amendment was as the first major “litmus test” for senators and gave Congress-watchers a good idea of which GOP senators will ultimately support the bipartisan measure working its way through the Judiciary Committee.
Three Republicans joined the 10 committee Democrats in opposition to Cruz’s amendment, including two “Gang of Eight” Republicans involved in the bill’s original draft—Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah also voted against Cruz’s amendment.
Read more: http://blog.chron.com/txpotomac/2013/05/cruzs-attempt-to-strip-citizenship-provision-from-immigration-reform-fails-in-a-big-way/
LOS ANGELES TIMES (Editorial): Immigration bill a testament to compromise
By The Times editorial board
May 23, 2013
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday to send the bipartisan immigration bill — more formally known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernizing Act — to the full Senate. The 800-plus page bill is by far the most ambitious attempt to overhaul the nation's immigration system in nearly three decades. The version that will reach the floor is, not surprisingly, imperfect, but the fact that it emerged from committee at all, and largely intact, is a testament to both political parties' willingness to compromise — a characteristic that has been in short supply in Washington for a long time.
It is a grave disappointment, of course, that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) was pressured to withdraw his amendment that would have allowed U.S. citizens to apply for green cards for their same-sex partners. But as Leahy himself acknowledged, that was the price of moving the measure to the floor, so he capitulated with "a heavy heart."
The legislation still faces plenty of hurdles. Some Republicans will argue, as they did Wednesday during a House hearing on the bill, that it doesn't go far enough on border and internal enforcement. Others, such as Chris Crane, the head of a union that represents deportation officers, will stoke fears that immigration reform will create some kind of a public safety crisis.
Such arguments, however, are disingenuous. The bill actually sets aside more than $4 billion for drones and other technology to secure the border. And it strengthens internal enforcement by requiring employers to use a system that verifies the immigration status of new hires. More than 35 state attorneys general have publicly come out in support of the measure because they believe it will keep communities safer, not put them in greater danger.
Read more: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-immigration-reform-20130523,0,1546486.story
NEW YORK TIMES: Judge Finds Violations of Rights by Sheriff
By Fernanda Santos
May 24, 2013
PHOENIX — A federal judge ruled on Friday that Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies had violated the constitutional rights of Latinos by targeting them during raids and traffic stops here and throughout Maricopa County.
With his ruling, Judge G. Murray Snow of United States District Court delivered the most decisive defeat so far to Sheriff Arpaio, who has come to symbolize Arizona’s strict approach to immigration enforcement by making it the leading mission for many of the 800 deputies under his command at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
At 142 pages, the decision is peppered with stinging criticism of the policies and practices espoused by Sheriff Arpaio, who Judge Snow said had turned much of his focus to arresting immigrants who were in the country illegally, in most cases civil violations, at the expense of fighting crimes.
He said the sheriff relied on racial profiling and illegal detentions to target Latinos, using their ethnicity as the main basis for suspecting they were in the country illegally. Many of the people targeted were American citizens or legal residents.
“In an immigration enforcement context,” Judge Snow ruled, the sheriff’s office “did not believe that it constituted racial profiling to consider race as one factor among others in making law enforcement decisions.” In fact, he said its plans and policies confirmed that, “in the context of immigration enforcement,” deputies “could consider race as one factor among others.”
The ruling prohibits the sheriff’s office from using “race or Latino ancestry” as a factor in deciding to stop any vehicle with Latino occupants, or as a factor in deciding whether they may be in the country without authorization.
It also prohibits deputies from reporting a vehicle’s Latino occupants to federal immigration authorities or detaining, holding or arresting them, unless there is more than just a “reasonable belief” that they are in the country illegally. To detain them, the ruling said, the deputies must also have reasonable suspicion that the occupants are violating the state’s human-trafficking and employment laws or committing other crimes.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/25/us/federal-judge-finds-violations-of-rights-by-sheriff-joe-arpaio.html
May 22, 2013 - Posted by Maurice Belanger
On May 21, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. The bill was reported out of committee shortly before 8:00 PM. The vote on the bill was 13 to 5, with all Democrats on the Committee supporting it along with Republican Senators Graham, Flake and Hatch.
In the two days leading up to the vote, the Committee considered approximately 80 amendments in day-long plus evening sessions. All of the amendments that would have threatened the compromise agreement were defeated.
Amendments to Title III
On May 20, the Committee finished considering amendments to Title III (begun the week before), concerning interior enforcement. Some of the amendments considered:
- Leahy amendment #3. This amendment makes VAWA self-petitioners eligible for work authorization, and requires DHS to issue work authorization for those who have approved VAWA petitions or whose petitions have been pending for more than 180 days. It also requires issuance of work authorization to those with approved T or U visa applications or whose applications have been pending for more than 180 days. It was approved by voice vote.
- Hatch amendment #7. This amendment would terminate the preferential treatment in immigration law for certain Amerasians. It was accepted by voice vote.
- Feinstein amendment #3. This amendment would provide an additional 5,000 visas per year for three years for displaced Tibetans.
- Graham amendment #2 (as amended). This amendment would require DHS to attempt to locate and remove a non-immigrant who has overstayed his or her visa. This amendment was accepted by voice vote.
- Klobuchar amendment #2. This amendment would add elder abuse to the list of crimes for which victims may be eligible for a U visa. This amendment was accepted by voice vote.
- Sessions amendment #31. This amendment would make Registered Provisional Immigrants (and other non-citizens and non-permanent residents) ineligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. It was rejected by a vote of 8 to 10.
- Franken amendment #8 (as amended). This amendment would transfer responsibilities for providing a child advocate and access to counsel for child victims of trafficking, as specified in the Victims of Trafficking Protection Act, from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Department of Justice. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Graham amendment #1 (as amended). This amendment would terminate refugee or asylum status for a person granted such status if the person returns to the country from which he or she fled. The amendment allows the Secretary to waive the termination for good cause. The amendment was adopted by voice vote.
- Coons amendment #5. This amendment requires DHS to provide to aliens in removal proceedings a copy of all documents pertaining to the individual's case, except for certain sensitive documents. The amendment was accepted by voice vote.
- Hatch amendment #6 (as amended). This amendment requires the establishment of a biometric exit data system beginning with the 10 busiest U.S. airports in two years, and expanding to the 30 busiest within six years. The amendment was agreed to by a vote of 13 to 5.
- Feinstein amendment #4. This amendment mandates the completion of identity checks for all persons being considered for refugee or asylum status before being granted status. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Coons amendment #8. This amendment requires work authorization to be issued to asylum applicants after 180 days. The amendment was agreed to by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #52. This amendment would delay implementation of sections of the bill pertaining to the elimination of the one-year asylum deadline, the grant of asylum to persons arriving in the U.S., and dual intent student visas until after the completion of a review of the recent Boston bombings. This amendment was rejected in a voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #49. This amendment would alter the legislation's anti-racial profiling provisions to permit country of origin profiling. It was rejected in a voice vote.
- Feinstein amendment #5 (as amended). This amendment would mandate training of Customs and Border Protection personnel regarding child trafficking. It was accepted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #43. This amendment expands the legislation's definition of criminal gangs, would make individuals ineligible for Registered Provisional Status for gang membership, regardless of conviction for any crime. The amendment was rejected in an 8 to 10 vote.
- Whitehouse amendment #5. This amendment would ban firearm sales to terrorists. It was withdrawn.
- Sessions amendment #7 (as amended). This amendment would increase visa fees on nationals from countries that do not accept individuals from those countries being removed from the U.S. The amendment was withdrawn.
- Franken amendment #7. This amendment adds a new subtitle H to Title III, the Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections for Separated Children Act. It would require DHS to follow certain procedures after apprehending persons who are parents of minor children in the U.S. It was adopted by a vote of 18 to 0.
- Lee amendment #16 (as amended). This amendment makes changes to the bill to restore the criminal offense of knowingly using a fraudulent immigration document. It was accepted by voice vote.
- Coons amendment #6 (as amended). This amendment specifies certain records DHS would be required to maintain concerning detained immigrants. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #45. This amendment would toughen certain penalties related to illegal entry, reentry, passport fraud and immigration fraud. It was rejected in a vote of 8 to 10.
- Blumenthal amendment #2. This amendment places restrictions on the use of solitary confinement for immigration detainees. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Sessions amendment #10 (as amended). This amendment would define an immigrant as a public charge if he or she was eligible to receive certain federal means-tested benefits. It was rejected in a voice vote.
- Coons amendment #12. This amendment would deny refugee or asylum status for certain human rights violators. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Lee amendment #17. This amendment would clarify that attempted fraudulent use of a passport is a crime. It was adopted in a voice vote.
- Blumenthal amendment #3 (as amended). This amendment would provide certain protections for workers who are victims of abuse by foreign labor recruiters. This amendment was accepted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #47. This amendment would strike section 3717 of the bill, relating to bond determinations for detained immigrants. It was rejected in a voice vote.
- Blumenthal amendment #4. This amendment added language to the bill concerning the protections against trafficking by foreign labor recruiters. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Sessions amendment #12. This amendment would require a minimum bond of $5,000 for release from detention if the immigrant was from a non-contiguous country. The amendment was rejected in a 9 to 9 vote.
- Blumenthal amendment #5 (as amended). This was another amendment aimed at strengthening protections for workers recruited abroad. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Hatch amendment #2. This amendment increases penalties for persons convicted of cultivating or manufacturing controlled substances on federal property. It was accepted by voice vote.
- Blumenthal amendment #6. This amendment would extend a prohibition on firearm sales to nonimmigrants who enter through the visa waiver program. It was withdrawn.
- Sessions amendment #32 (as amended). This amendment asserts states have inherent authority to enforce immigration laws; denies states or localities reimbursement for incarcerating criminal non-citizens if they have policies prohibiting cooperation with federal immigration enforcement agents; and it would force the federal government to re-enter into 287(g) agreements with states and localities and provides states and localities with judicial review should an agreement be terminated. The amendment was rejected by voice vote.
- Hirono amendment #22 (as amended). This amendment, the Child Trafficking Victims Protection Act, sets up special protections for apprehended unaccompanied alien minors. It was accepted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #44 (as amended). This amendment makes conviction for three or more drunk driving offenses an aggravated felony, and therefore would make an immigrant removable. At least one of the convictions must be after the date of enactment of the bill. This amendment was approved in a 17 to 1 vote, with only Chairman Leahy opposing.
- Blumenthal amendment #8 (as amended). This amendment would limit the authority of the government to press immigration enforcement actions in certain sensitive locations, such as hospitals, churches, schools and other locations. The amendment was adopted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #27A. This amendment would strike section 3401 of the bill, which eliminates the one-year asylum deadline. It also strikes a section of the bill which allows for a grant of asylum by an asylum officer in certain circumstances at ports of entry. The amendment was defeated in a 6 to 12 vote.
Amendments to Title II
In the evening of May 20, the Committee moved on to consider amendments to the sections of the bill having to do with legalization and legal immigration. Approximately 100 amendments were filed relating to Title II. Not all of them were offered.
- Grassley amendment #27B. This amendment would delete a provision that would waive grounds of ineligibility relating to frivolous asylum applications and failure to voluntarily depart for the purposes of applying for RPI status. It failed in a 9 to 9 vote.
- Coons amendment #10 (as amended). This amendment prohibits the denial of business or professional licenses on the basis of immigration status for those who have work authorization. The amendment was adopted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #11. This amendment would narrow the circumstances under which persons apprehended during the RPI application period may not be removed. It was rejected in a 6 to 12 vote.
- Blumenthal amendment #12. This amendment provides a faster track to naturalization for Registered Provisional Immigrants who serve in the armed forces. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Graham amendment #3 (as amended). This amendment permits additional screening for persons from certain countries or regions. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Hirono amendment #21 (as amended). This amendment makes young people legalizing through the DREAM Act portion of the bill eligible for certain student loans, work study programs and other programs. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Sessions amendment #16. This amendment would establish new triggers in the bill. Before DHS could begin processing applications for RPI status, the Secretary would have to certify that 1) the Southern Border Security Strategy had begun to be implemented, and 2) all applications would be filed electronically. It specifies various databases that must be checked and includes other fraud detection requirements. It was defeated in a 6 to 12 vote.
- Cornyn amendment #3 (as amended). This amendment expands the list of crimes, including several misdemeanors, which would make a person ineligible for RPI status. It was rejected in a vote of 8 to 10.
- Hirono amendment #12. This amendment would permit the RPI penalty fees to be paid in installments. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #18. This amendment would require RPI applicants to reveal all of the SSNs they may have used to obtain employment in the U.S. It was rejected in vote of 8 to 10.
On May 21, the committee resumed consideration of the amendments to Title II pertaining to the legalization program, and moved to other subtitles of the bill.
- Sessions amendment #30. This amendment would amend the tax code to deny the Child Tax Credit to persons without a Social Security Number. It was defeated in an 8 to 10 vote.
- Hirono amendment #28 (as amended). This amendment would specify certain information to be collected on the RPI application form. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #17. This amendment eliminates judicial review for persons denied temporary status as RPIs, blue card immigrants, and DACA recipients, except in the case of a constitutional challenge to provisions of the act or subsequent regulations, and the challenge may be brought only in the DC District Court. It was defeated in a vote of 6 to 12
- Feinstein amendment #13. This amendment would allow funds from the grant program established in Section 2106 to be used to assist agricultural workers applying for blue card status. A second degree amendment had to do with dual intent on certain student visas. The amendment as amended was approved by voice vote.
- Cornyn amendment #4 (as amended). This amendment would require the government to attempt to notify crime victims of certain persons applying for RPI status. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Cornyn amendment #5. This amendment would strike confidentiality provisions included in the registration process for Registered Provisional Immigrant status. It failed in a 9 to 9 tie.
- Lee amendment #10. This amendment would change the payment of tax requirement for RPI status to one that would be very difficult to prove, and would most likely prevent many potential applicants from applying. It was rejected by voice vote.
- Lee amendment #8. This amendment would make persons who have absconded or persons who have returned illegally after deportation ineligible for RPI status. (The bill waives those grounds of inadmissibility unless the behavior occurred after the date of enactment.) It was rejected by voice vote.
- Lee amendment #12. This amendment would remove sworn affidavits as an option for providing proof of employment when applying for RPI status. It was rejected by voice vote.
- Cruz amendment #3 (as amended). This amendment would eliminate the path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. It was rejected by a vote of 5 to 13.
- Cruz amendment #2. This amendment would permanently bar legalizing immigrants from means-tested public benefits, regardless of eventual citizenship status. This amendment was rejected in a 6 to 12 vote.
- Flake amendment #4. This amendment requires regular audits to ensure that persons in RPI status are not accessing means-tested public benefits, and makes clear that anyone with RPI status who accesses mean-tested public benefits through fraud will have their status revoked. (The bill bars persons with RPI status from federal means-tested benefits.) It was adopted by voice vote.
- Flake amendment #3 (as amended) and as further amendment by Sen. Schumer). This amendment as amended would require an additional background check at the stage of renewing RPI status and clarifies that "brief, casual, and innocent" departures from the U.S. would not break physical presence requirements. It was accepted by voice vote.
- Hatch amendment #10 (as amended). This amendment was a compromise worked out with Senator Schumer, in an effort to obtain Senator Hatch's support for the bill, and pertains to the temporary worker section. The amendment: changes the formula used to calculate the cap on H-1B visas (allowing for more visas to be allocated in a given year); it changes the requirements placed on certain employers regarding the displacement of American workers; changes recruiting requirements for employers seeking H-1B nonimmigrants; and makes a number of other changes pertaining to the sections on temporary nonimmigrant workers. This amendment passed in a 16 to 2 vote.
- Senator Grassley offered a number of second-degree amendments to the Hatch/Schumer amendment. His second-degree amendment #1 would toughen the recruitment requirement for employers, and was rejected in a 2 to 15 vote. Grassley's second-degree amendment #2 would require employers to show that no female U.S. worker in a STEM field was displaced within 180 days before or after filing an H-1B petition. This was rejected in a 3 to 15 vote. His second-degree amendment #3 would sunset provisions of the bill that would offer an unlimited number of visas to foreign students graduating from U.S. universities in the STEM fields if, by the end of 2018, there were fewer U.S. students graduating from those fields than on the date of enactment. It was rejected in a 2 to 16 vote. Finally, Grassley's second degree amendment #4 would require all employers to pay "level 2 wages" to H-1B hires, not just H-1B dependent employers. This amendment was rejected 3 to 15.
- Whitehouse amendment #4.. This amendment would, among other things, allow government national laboratories to nominate persons for a conditional green card, which will allow for the beginning of the clearance process necessary for those positions. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #16. This amendment requires the Secretary of DHS to adjust for inflation the fees and penalties included in the legislation. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Franken amendment #9. This amendment would clarify that certain battered immigrant women are eligible for HUD subsidized housing. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Sessions amendment #2. This amendment, setting caps on legal immigration and work authorization, was withdrawn.
- Coons amendment #3. This amendment would grant special immigrant status to surviving spouses and children of certain employees of the U.S. government killed in the line of duty abroad. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Cornyn amendment #8 (as amended). This amendment would facilitate establishment of EB-5 (investor visa) regional centers in communities where there have been military base closures. It was accepted by voice vote.
- Hirono amendment #1. This amendment would exempt the children of certain Filipino World War II veterans from immigration caps. It was accepted by voice vote.
- Cruz amendment #4. This amendment would, among other things, increase employment-based immigration to more than 1 million, eliminate per-country caps, and reduce family-based immigration. It was rejected in a 6 to 12 vote.
- Coons amendment #9 (as amended). This amendment sets requirements for DHS to contact employers and employees concerning non-confirmations and confirmations in the electronic worker verification system. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #19. This amendment (as modified) would require certain monitoring of immigration benefits fraud, and require annual reports from DHS. It was accepted by voice vote.
- Hirono amendment #10. This amendment would allow for sibling immigration when a U.S. citizen otherwise would suffer extreme hardship. The underlying bill phases out the brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens family preference category. The amendment was rejected by a vote of 7 to 11.
- Sessions amendment #15. This amendment would grant DHS ultimate power to grant a visa, regardless of any decision by a Department of State consular officer, and it would eliminate judicial review of a visa decision by DHS. It was rejected in a voice vote.
- Hirono amendment #11. This amendment would require a GAO study of the merit-based immigration system seven years after date of enactment. The amendment was accepted by voice vote.
- Klobuchar amendment #5 (as amended). This amendment pertains to requirements in a program to attract nonimmigrant doctors to underserved areas. It was adopted by voice vote.
The most dramatic moment came at the end of the debate, when Senator Leahy offered an amendment to grant same-sex couples immigration rights. The debate--heartfelt, sincere, and respectful--was conducted in a tone that is rare in a hyper-partisan era. Both Democrats and Republicans, regardless of their views on same-sex marriage, argued that the immigration bill was not the venue for attempting to resolve the issue of the rights of same-sex couples--it would lead to the breakup of the coalition supporting immigration reform. After hearing out his colleagues, Senator Leahy withdrew his amendment.
In concluding statements, Senators praised Senator Leahy's leadership, and noted this was the best markup process they have gone through. The final vote on the bill was 13 to 5. It next goes to the Senate floor, where it will be subject to further amendment. That process may begin the week of June 10.
May 20, 2013 - Posted by Communications Intern
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“Filing a real bipartisan bill — a serious, enforceable commonsense bill — is, I think, a huge step. But it's the first step of the process.”
—Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida), speaking about the agreement in principle on immigration reform among bipartisan negotiators in the House, May 16
Bipartisan Immigration Reform Bill May Clear Senate Committee This Week
The Senate Judiciary Committee is continuing its markup of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, S. 744, and the committee could pass the bipartisan bill later this week and send it on to the Senate floor.
Last week the committee considered Title IV, Reforms to Nonimmigrant Visa Programs, and started on Title III, which focuses on interior enforcement. Under way this evening is markup of Title II. This portion of the bill, simply titled “Immigrant Visas,” includes the essential roadmap to legalization and citizenship for aspiring Americans.
The “Gang of Eight” bill began as a bipartisan enterprise, and it likely will have bipartisan support as it moves out of the Judiciary Committee. Maintaining the spirit of bipartisanship and rational debate that has prevailed to this point will be key during a floor debate, likely in June.
Business Leaders Step Up Their Support in Washington and Online
In recent weeks, faith and law enforcement leaders from around the country have come to Washington to meet with congressional offices, hear from administration officials and show their unflagging support for broad immigration reform. This week, business leaders are making their voices heard.
Leaders in business and agriculture from around the country will be in Washington on Tuesday, holding meetings with congressional offices at a key moment. And on Wednesday and Thursday, business leaders and their allies will hold the “March for Innovation,” a virtual march for immigration reform.
Business leaders have the support of their allies in the Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform network. On Thursday, during the March for Innovation, evangelical leaders will show their support via an hourlong social media push on Twitter at 4 p.m. (hashtag: #iMarch).
CALENDAR:Please visit our Events page to find this week's immigration-related events.
Summary of immigration legislation introduced and government reports on immigration:
MUST READ: NEW YORK TIMES: Bipartisan House Group Reaches Preliminary Immigration Deal
By Ashley Parker
May 16, 2013
A bipartisan group in the House working on an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws reached a deal in principle Thursday evening, aides said. The group plans to introduce its bill in June.
Details of the compromise were not released, but, much like a bill introduced in the Senate, the House legislation will include a path to legalization for the 11 million undocumented workers already in the country, as well as increased border security measures. The House version, though, is expected to be more conservative in its approach to granting illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, among a number of central issues.
It will most likely include a 15-year path to citizenship, rather than the 13-year path offered in the Senate proposal, as well as requiring illegal immigrants to sign an admission that they had violated United States immigration laws, aides said.
The House group had been meeting and working on a nearly parallel track with a similar bipartisan group in the Senate, which has already introduced legislation that is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee. But until Thursday, the House group had yet to reach an agreement, and earlier this week the Republican members had threatened to walk away and introduce legislation of their own if a compromise could not be reached.
The two-hour meeting Thursday evening, a last-ditch effort to save the legislation, finally produced the agreement in principle.
Read more: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/16/bipartisan-house-group-reaches-preliminary-immigration-deal/
HUFFINGTON POST: Immigration Reform Would Save U.S. $410 Billion over the Next Decade: Conservative Analysis
May 15, 2013
There are reasons beyond gut feelings or voter demographics for lawmakers to pass immigration reform. It could help the nation's economy, according to a new analysis.
If Congress passes the immigration reform bill introduced by the “Gang of Eight,” it would save $410 billion over the next 10 years, according to an analysis from Gordon Gray, the director of fiscal policy at the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank. The bill is currently being considered by a Senate committee.
The analysis is based on a report released earlier this month by the office of the Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration, which found that immigration reform would help the country’s Social Security problem by adding millions of workers who would pay into the program’s trust fund. Gray based his calculations off the report's estimate that if immigration reform passed, GDP levels would be about 1.6 percent higher by 2024.
“It’s pretty straightforward arithmetic,” Gray told The Huffington Post.
Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/15/immigration-reform-save-billions_n_3280145.html?utm_hp_ref=business
May 16, 2013 - Posted by Maurice Belanger
The Senate Judiciary Committee met again on May 16 to continue consideration of amendments to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.
Title IV Amendments
The committee first finished up consideration of a few amendments from Title IV, pertaining to the temporary nonimmigrant worker provisions the committee did not get to on May 14.
- Hirono Amendment #4. This amendment would make Hong Kong eligible to be considered for the visa waiver program. It was approved by a vote of 14 to 4.
- Grassley amendment #71. This amendment would replace and change the requirements of a section of the bill that provides a special category of visas for Irish nationals. The amendment was withdrawn.
- Leahy amendment #2. This amendment would permanently authorize the EB-5 Investor Visa program. (Currenly the program has been temporarily extended by Congress several times, and is now schedule to expire in 2015.) The amendment passed by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #76. This amendment would delay implementation of the W visa nonimmigrant worker program until a new system set up by the legislation to monitor W visa holders is fully implemented. The amendment was withdrawn.
- Schumer amendment #5 (as amended). This amendment made a number of changes to the W nonimmigrant temporary worker program. It was approved by voice vote.
- Cornyn amendment #9. This amendment would eliminate provisions in the bill to limit the availability of W visas for construction workers. It was withdrawn.
- Whitehouse amendment #1 (as amended). This amendment would add another category of individuals who would qualify for the new INVEST visa created by the legislation. The amendment was accepted by voice vote.
- Lee amendment #18. This amendment would greatly increase the number of W nonimmigrant temporary workers who would be allowed to enter each year. The amendment was withdrawn.
- Lee amendment #19. This amendment would make some changes in the complaint process set up in the W visa section of the legislation. The amendment was withdrawn.
Title III - Amendments on E-Verify
The committee next moved to consideration of amendments to Title III, the provisions pertaining to enforcement of immigration laws in the interior, starting with E-Verify.
- Franken amendment #2 (as amended). This amendment would require annual accuracy audits of the E-Verify program. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #31 (as amended by striking lines 9 to 13 on p. 2). This amendment would require USCIS to produce a weekly report containing information about individuals who received a non-confirmation in a check through the E-Verify system. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Coons amendment #1. This amendment would require DHS to develop a process for notifying an individual when an E-Verify query was processed for that individual. This amendment was accepted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #38. This amendment would create a process by which parents may “lock” the Social Security numbers of their children, to prevent misuse. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #29. This amendment would require that all employers use the E-Verify system by 18 months after the bill’s enactment. This amendment was rejected in a 5 to 13 vote.
- Franken amendment #4 (as amended). This amendment would establish an Office of Small Business and Employee Advocate within USCIS, to assist small businesses and workers on matters pertaining to the E-Verify system. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #35. This amendment would delay implementation of a provision of the bill that would pre-empt state laws pertaining to electronic worker verification until all employers are required to use the E-verify system. This amendment was rejected by a 5 to 13 vote.
- Blumenthal amendment #18. This amendment would make it an unfair employment practice for an employer to withhold employment records documenting employment from an employee. It was accepted by voice vote.
- Lee amendment #15. This amendment would change an antidiscrimination provision in the legislation to require the showing of intent. It was rejected in a 6 to 12 vote.
- Whitehouse amendment #3. This amendment would prohibit the re-verification of employees in cases where there is a substantial continuity of the workforce between once company and another (as in the purchase of one company by another). It was withdrawn.
- Grassley amendment #34 (as amended). This amendment would make it a crime to engage in identity fraud in order to facilitate or assist in harboring or hiring undocumented immigrants. It was rejected by a vote of 8 to 10.
- Grassley amendment #36. This amendment changes one of the documents to establish identity for employment verification purposes for persons under 18 years of age to an attestation by a parent or guardian. It was accepted by voice vote.
With the completion of the E-Verify amendments, the committee recessed until May 20. The Committee chair, Senator Patrick Leahy, told members to be prepared for late evening sessions beginning the 20th, so the committee may finish considering the bill by the Memorial Day recess, which begins May 24.
House Hearing on Two Immigration Bills
While the Senate was considering comprehensive reform, the House Immigration Subcommittee held hearings on two immigration-related bills. The Legal Workforce Act, H.R. 1772, introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, would make mandatory an electronic worker verification system. The Agricultural Guestworker Act, H.R. 1773, introduced by Rep. Robert Goodlatte of Virginia, would create a new temporary worker program to replace the current H-2A agricultural worker program, with fewer worker protections than the current program and with no legalization program for current undocumented farmworkers. These hearings are part of a series that will consider pieces of immigration reform, the approach being taken so far in the House.
You can obtain the testimony from the hearing on the Legal Workforce Act here. You can obtain testimony from the hearing on the Agricultural Guestworker Act here.
May 15, 2013 - Posted by Maurice Belanger
On May 14, the Senate Judiciary Committee met to resume consideration of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. In all, 38 amendments were considered, with 24 being accepted. On the second day of markup, all amendments that would threaten the integrity of the compromise legislation were defeated. Following is a summary of the amendments considered.
The committee first considered some unfinished business from the pre-title section, Title I of the bill, and broad amendments affecting multiple titles.
- Feinstein amendment #11 (as amended). This amendment would restrict Border Patrol operation of unmanned aerial drones over California to within three miles of the border. It was accepted by voice vote.
- Coons amendment #2 (as amended). This amendment has to do with limiting certain deportation practices, and requires reports related to deportation. It was accepted by voice vote.
- Schumer amendment #1. This amendment made a number of technical corrections throughout the bill, and was accepted by voice vote.
- Sessions amendment #4. This amendment established a new trigger—that a biometric entry/exit system would have to be implemented before Registered Provisional Immigrants could adjust to permanent status. It was rejected by a vote of 6 to 12.
- Senator Lee withdrew three of his amendments: amendment #1, to replace the legislation with a short bill on border security; amendment#2, to replace the legislation with an E-Verify bill; and amendment #3, replacing the legislation with a bill focusing on the immigration of high-skilled workers and STEM education.
Next, Senator Sessions offered an amendment to set new levels of immigration in the future.
Sessions amendment #1 would replace the legislation’s proposed legal immigration system by striking sections 2301 and section 2302 (establishing the merit-based point system); section 2304 (setting new worldwide levels of immigration and providing for the “re-capture” of unused visas); section 2305 (reclassifying spouses and children of permanent residents as “immediate relatives” and making other adjustments in the immigration system); and section 2307 (setting new visa levels in the family and employment preference categories).
Instead, the Sessions amendment would eliminate the current “immediate relative” category, that allows spouses, minor children and parents of U.S. citizens to enter above the worldwide annual cap on immigrant visas; it would eliminate current family preference categories for siblings of U.S. citizens, adult unmarried children of U.S. citizens, adult married children of U.S. citizens, and unmarried adult children of legal permanent residents. In addition, parents of U.S. citizens, currently in the “immediate relatives” category, would no longer be allocated immigrant visas. A new worldwide cap of 1.2 million visas would include children and spouses of citizens and LPRs, refugees and asylum seekers, and immigrants coming through a merit system that allocates points for certain types of occupations, employer endorsement, employment experience, age, education, English ability, and certain family relationships.
The amendment also caps the number of work authorizations that may be allocated in a year.
The amendment was an immigration restrictionist’s dream, and Senator Sessions spoke at length about it, but in the end, he was the only one to vote for it. With 17 opposed, the amendment was not accepted.
Title IV Amendments
Senators next turned to consideration of amendments to Title IV, concerning the nonimmigrant provisions in the legislation.
- Whitehouse amendment #6 (as amended). This amendment would require the establishment of a toll-free hotline and website for H-1B workers to file complaints against their employers. The amendment was accepted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #58. This amendment would require employers to include additional information in the internet posting of jobs required by the legislation before employers may hire nonimmigrant workers for the position. It was accepted by voice vote.
- Hatch amendment #9 (as amended). This amendment increases the labor certification fee and allocates funding from the collected fee to education programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). It was accepted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #67. This amendment would require an audit of at least 1 percent of companies that hire H-1B workers annually. It was rejected by a vote of 2 to 15, with one abstention.
- Cruz amendment #5. This amendment would increase the number of H-1B temporary nonimmigrant visas over the numbers set in the legislation, eliminate worker protections included in the legislation, increase the H-1B fee imposed on employers, and make other changes to the sections pertaining to H-1B nonimmigrant workers. It was rejected in a 4 to 14 vote.
- Grassley amendment #60. This amendment would tighten requirements on employers hiring H-1B nonimmigrant workers. It was rejected by a vote of 2 to 15, with one abstention.
- Grassley amendment #62. This amendment would make changes to the definition of H-1B-dependent employers, and was rejected by a vote of 2 to 15, with one abstention.
- Grassley amdendment #56. This amendment would delete authority for the Secretary of State to waive in-person consular interviews for low-risk applicants. It failed on a tie 9 to 9 vote.
- Schumer amendment #3. This amendment provides additional opportunities for certain persons from Africa and the Caribbean to obtain nonimmigrant temporary work visas. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #70. This amendment would delay implementation of allotting free trade-related visas to nationals of the Republic of Korea until Korea lifts restrictions on the importation of U.S. beef. It was rejected by voice vote.
- Klobuchar amendment #3. This amendment would require a pilot program to conduct interviews for certain nonimmigrant visas by remote video conferencing, to test the feasibility of this method for reducing backlogs in visa interviews. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Sessions amendment #13 (as amended). This amendment would require in-person visa interviews for certain persons who the government determines may be security risks. A second-degree amendment by Sen. Schumer would give consular officers access to all terrorism databases. The amendment was approved by a vote of 10 to 8.
- Blumenthal amendment #17. This amendment concerns whistleblower protections for H-2B nonimmigrant workers, and was withdrawn for further modification.
- Hirono amendment #15. This amendment would extend Medicaid coverage to persons lawfully residing in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. It was accepted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #69 (as amended). This amendment tightens requirements associated with the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It was accepted by voice vote.
- Schumer amendment #4 (as amended). This amendment would expand the J exchange visitor visa program to include persons with certain specialized language expertise. The amendment was accepted by voice vote.
- Sessions amendment #6. This amendment would make changes to the visa waiver program made by the legislation contingent upon the full implementation of a biometric entry and exit system. It was rejected by a vote of 6 to 12.
- Klobuchar amendment #1. This amendment, providing immigration benefits for certain abused spouses and children, was accepted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #77. This amendment would require data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System to be shared with databases used by Customs and Border Protection. If this sharing of information is not accomplished by 120 days after enactment, F and M student visa issuance would be suspended. It was accepted by voice vote.
- Hirono amendment #2 (as amended). This amendment pertains to allowing alien crewmembers to land temporarily in Hawaii, and was approved by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #68. This amendment would delay implementation of the dual intent provisions of the bill for F student visas until one year after the full implementation of the second generation of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. The amendment failed in a tie vote 9 to 9.
On May 16, the committee will finish up with amendments to Title IV, and then turn its attention to amendments to Title III, the interior enforcement provisions.
May 14, 2013 - Posted by Communications Intern
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“I am convinced we stand on the edge of the Jordan called immigration reform. On the other side lies the promised land of integration, secure borders and healthy communities. What will it take for us as a nation to get there? Two words: prophetic courage.”
—Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, during a press call May 8 announcing the Evangelical Immigration Table’s Pray for Reform campaign
Markup of Immigration Reform Bill Continues This Week
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee began markup of the “Gang of Eight” bill — the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, S. 744. The committee considered more than 30 amendments to Title I of the bill, which focuses on border security.
This week the committee will continue the debate with markup sessions Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesday the focus will be Title IV, Reforms to Nonimmigrant Visa Programs.
As the debate in Congress moves forward, leaders across the political spectrum, including the Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform Network, are encouraging continued rational dialogue that ends with the passage broad, bipartisan reform. On Tuesday, amid Police Week, law enforcement leaders will hold a press call in support of broad reform and will meet to discuss immigration reform with administration officials at the White House.
Bethlehem Project Helps Eligible Immigrants Pursue Citizenship
The Bethlehem Project is a program in which businesses help eligible immigrant employees navigate the citizenship process. Following a successful launch in Miami in April that generated additional interest there, the Bethlehem Project takes off in Los Angeles on Tuesday with a citizenship workshop at American Apparel.
Through partnerships with local businesses and immigrant service organizations, the Bethlehem Project assists eligible immigrant employees with the citizenship process right on the worksite. The result for business is employees who become more valuable workers and full participants in the workplace, community, and economy.
CALENDAR:Please visit our Events page to find this week's immigration-related events.
Summary of immigration legislation introduced and government reports on immigration:
MUST READ: WALL STREET JOURNAL (Stassel Column): Conservatives for Immigration Reform
By Kimberly Strassel
May 9, 2013
The Heritage Foundation on Monday released a report designed to kill immigration reform. A few days later, nearly 30 leaders, hailing from the core of the conservative movement—think tanks, faith groups, political and advocacy organizations—signed a public letter backing the congressional process. Which got more notice?
The media glory in conflict, and so they devoted this week to the angry feud/war/battle in the GOP over immigration reform. The evidence? One research document from one think tank. The real news is the growing unity among conservative leaders and groups over the need to at least embrace the challenge of reform. This is no 2007.
At the height of that past fray over immigration—as restrictionists whipped up seething grass-roots anger against reform, drowning out proponents—Heritage released a similar report. It fueled a raging fire, and played a singular role in derailing reform.
This time the Heritage report—which purports to show how much a founding principle of America will "cost" taxpayers—was coolly dismissed by peers. Members of influential conservative groups—from Americans for Tax Reform to the Cato Institute to the American Action Forum—immediately held a press call demolishing the report's numbers, methodology and analysis.
These leaders then joined dozens of others—from the tea party, the American Conservative Union, the Manhattan Institute, the Southern Baptist Convention and more—to meet with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to talk reform. Even those few attendees who remain opposed were there—engaged in honest dialogue. No napalm. No bazookas.
Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323744604578473411732130082.html
NEW YORK TIMES: Love Thy Stranger as Thyself
By MOLLY WORTHEN
MAY 11, 2013
IMMIGRATION reform is not a liberal idea. It is good, old-fashioned conservative policy — at least that’s what its supporters want the Republican faithful to believe.
The Republican Party has “historically been pro-immigration,” Grover Norquist, the anti-tax activist, said after the 2012 election. The conservative National Immigration Forum declares that America needs reform that “celebrates freedom and values hard work.”
Some of the most enthusiastic endorsements of the new immigration bill have come from traditional evangelicals, who insist that reform “respects the God-given dignity of every person.” Richard Land, a Southern Baptist leader who was among the 300 evangelicals who went to Washington last month for “a day of prayer and action for immigration reform,” said that once Republicans toned down their anti-immigrant rhetoric, Latino voters would follow.
“They’re social conservatives, hard-wired to be pro-family, religious and entrepreneurial,” he told me. Mr. Land pointed to Senator Marco Rubio as the face of this “new conservative coalition.”
“Let the Democrats be the party of dependency and ever lower expectations,” Mr. Land added. “The Republicans will be the party of aspiration and opportunity — and who better to lead the way than the son of Cuban immigrants?”
The Christian right may be too optimistic about any change in the political sympathies of Latinos. Increasing numbers tell pollsters they favor same-sex marriage, for example. But the real surprise is that evangelicals may be wrong about the unyielding conservatism of their own movement.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/12/opinion/sunday/love-thy-immigrant-stranger-as-thyself.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Molly Worthen is an assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
May 10, 2013 - Posted by Maurice Belanger
On May 9, the Senate Judiciary Committee began considering amendments to the comprehensive immigration reform bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, S. 744. By the May 7 deadline set by committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), approximately 300 amendments had been filed by members of the committee.
After opening statements by several senators, the committee got down to work, examining the beginning of the bill, having to do with legalization "triggers," and Title I, having to do with border enforcement.
The first amendment that was considered was the sponsors' amendment that had been introduced the previous week. This amendment replaced the entire bill as introduced, making a number of technical changes and corrections. That amendment was accepted by the Committee in a roll call vote of 14 to 4.
The committee next considered a block of 11 amendments that were not controversial among members of the committee. Those amendments were:
- Leahy amendment #1. This amendment would prohibit the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from collecting a border crossing fee, or to conduct studies about the implementation of a border crossing fee. Senator Leahy argued that a border crossing fee would place a considerable burden on tourism and commerce.
- Grassley amendment #2. This amendment makes changes relating to the congressional committees to which DHS must submit various reports specified in the bill.
- Grassley amendment #5. This amendment requires an audit of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Trust Fund set up by the legislation.
- Cornyn amendment #6. This amendment has to do with data and reporting on human trafficking, and the criminal classification of human trafficking.
- Sessions amendment #36. This amendment expands the responsibilities of the DHS Office of Inspector General to include providing assistance to victims of violence by non-citizens in the border areas.
- Flake amendment #1. This amendment would require representation by private landowners in the Border Oversight Task Force set up by the legislation.
- Flake amendment #2. This amendment would require an annual GAO report on the progress of the Southern Border Security Strategy (mandated by the bill).
- Feinstein amendment #6. This amendment would require the Department of Homeland Security to develop standards for the custody of children.
- Feinstein amendment #7. This amendment would require competitive granting for Operation Stonegarden.
- Feinstein amendment #8. This amendment requires the deployment of watercraft by the Border Patrol.
- Hirono amendment #24 (modified by the deletion of paragraphs four and seven). This amendment sets up an Ombudsman's office within DHS to focus solely on immigration issues, substituting section 1114 of the bill.
The block of amendments was approved by voice vote.
Other amendments considered by the committee on May 9:
- Grassley amendment #4. This amendment would require the Secretary of DHS to certify there is effective control over the border for six months before any processing of applications for Registered Provisional Immigrant status. The amendment was rejected by a vote of 6 to 12. In arguing against the amendment, Senator Flake (R-Ariz.) pointed out that it would not be a good idea to delay having undocumented immigrants come forward, making themselves known to the government, and getting their background checks. Grassley's amendment would cause that delay.
- Schumer amendment #2. This amendment would allocate additional funding for startup costs for various programs established by the bill. Costs would be repaid to the Treasury through fees and fines. The amendment passed by a vote of 14 to 4.
- Lee amendment #4. This amendment would set up fast track procedures for Congressional approval of certification by the DHS Secretary that border security strategies have been implemented. The amendment would have violated the compromise, and was rejected 6 to 12.
- Grassley amendment #1. This amendment would strike reference in the bill to "high risk" sectors of the borders, so that border metrics set out in the bill will apply to all border sectors, not just "high risk" sectors. This amendment was adopted by voice vote.
- Grassley amendment #24. This amendment would add accountability language to grant programs authorized by the bill. It was agreed to by voice vote.
- Feinstein amendment #9. This amendment would expand the range of costs for which the federal government must reimburse states and localities in immigration-related prosecutions. This amendment was accepted by voice vote.
- Sessions amendment #37. This amendment would delete a provision in the bill requiring DHS to develop a use of force policy. The amendment was rejected 7 to 11.
- Coons amendment #2. This amendment, meant to prevent DHS from deporting persons to areas of the border that are dangerous, was withdrawn.
- Blumenthal amendment #10. This amendment would bar the federal government from reimbursing states or localities for the prosecution and related costs of non-citizens in certain circumstances. This was adopted by voice vote.
- Cruz amendment #1. This amendment would replace Title I of the bill, dealing with border enforcement, with a new Title I that would, among other things, require the tripling of the number of Border Patrol agents and require similar increases in other border enforcement resources. Registration for Provisional Immigrant Status would be contingent upon accomplishing all of the goals set out by the amendment. The amendment did not say, specifically, how such a massive increase in resources would be paid for. It was rejected 5 to 13.
- Hirono amendment #23. This amendment would require DHS to give special consideration to family unity in making decisions about removal or referral for prosecution of individuals apprehended at the border. This amendment passed 10 to 8.
- Sessions amendment #38. This amendment would delete a part of the bill requiring training for Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol personnel. It was withdrawn.
- Feinstein amendment #11. This amendment would narrow the width of the "Southwest Border Region," as defined in the bill, from 100 miles to 25 miles. It was withdrawn.
- Feinstein amendment #1. This amendment would reauthorize and expand the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, by which states are reimbursed for costs incurred incarcerating non-citizens. This amendment was adopted in a vote of 10 to 8.
- Feinstein amendment #10. This amendment would establish a grant program for border infrastructure improvements. It was adopted.
- Leahy amendment #4. This amendment clarifies that resources deployed pursuant to the Southern Border Fencing Strategy are to be deployed on the southern border. It was adopted by voice vote.
- Sessions amendment #9. This amendment would require 700 miles of double-layer fencing be substantially completed before immigrants in RPI status could adjust. The amendment was rejected, by a vote of 6 to 12, as it would have violated the compromise.
- Cornyn amendment #1. This amendment would re-write Title I of the bill so that more resources would be deployed to the southern border, including the addition of 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents, and it would make the trigger goals much more difficult to meet. It was rejected by a vote of 6 to 12.
- Feinstein amendment #2. This amendment would provide additional district court judges in southwestern states. The amendment was accepted by voice vote.
- Sessions amendment #11. This amendment would change the border trigger so that DHS would have to accomplish "effective control" of the border as defined in the Secure Fence Act (which essentially requires zero illegal border crossings, an unattainable goal). The amendment, striking at the heart of the compromise, was rejected by a vote of 6 to 12.
- Cornyn amendment #2. This amendment would deploy more resources to ports of entry, including an additional 5,000 Customs and Border Protection agents. The amendment was withdrawn.
The committee completed amendments to Title I. By the end of the first day, many amendments had been accepted, but all of the amendments that would potentially unravel the compromise worked out among the senate negotiators who drafted the bill were rejected.
On Tuesday, May 14, the committee will resume consideration of amendments on Title IV, covering nonimmigrant temporary worker programs. The committee will meet next week on Tuesday and Thursday, and the following week as often as it needs to to complete its work.
You can find all of the amendments filed for this bill here:
May 08, 2013 - Posted by Communications Intern
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“I took on this difficult issue, despite the political risk it entails, because fixing immigration is essential for the nation’s security, is good for job creation and has always helped separate America from the rest of the world.” ”
—Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) op-ed, May 2
Senate Prepares for Markup of Immigration Reform Bill
After a one-week recess, Congress returns to session this week. The Senate has a full agenda on immigration, including hearings and Thursday’s Judiciary Committee markup of the “Gang of Eight” bill — the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, S. 744. The markup represents a significant step forward for the bill through the legislative process.
The progress in Congress comes as Americans across the political spectrum, including “Bibles, Badges and Business” leaders, reinforce their support for a new immigration process and urge Congress to keep up the momentum. Polls continue to show strong bipartisan support for reform (see below). And leaders are speaking out — including conservative leaders critical of a “flawed and error-prone” Heritage Foundation report released today.
Meanwhile, in a press call Wednesday, evangelical leaders are slated to launch the next stage in their push for commonsense immigration reform: a 92-day “Pray for Reform” campaign with strong grassroots and social media components. Last week, the Evangelical Immigration Table sent a letter to Congress urging passage of broad, bipartisan reform in the next 92 days.
New Polling Shows Continued Strong Support for Reform
In a poll released today, respondents strongly support immigration reform and the “Gang of Eight” bill. Among the key findings:
• 71 percent of voters, including 74 percent of conservative Republicans, support comprehensive reform.
• 42 percent of voters said they are more likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who supports comprehensive immigration reform; 12 percent said they are less likely to support such a candidate.
• 64 percent of participants, including 55 percent of conservative Republicans, support a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring Americans.
The poll was commissioned by FWD.us, an organization of tech leaders focusing on keeping the United States competitive in the global economy. The new results continue a trend in a plethora of recent polls, which show strong momentum for immigration reform — as well as American voters’ strong support for members of Congress who are willing to vote for broad immigration reform that address our broken immigration system for the long term.
CALENDAR:Please visit our Events page to find this week's immigration-related events.
Summary of immigration legislation introduced and government reports on immigration:
MUST READ: NEW YORK TIMES: Transformation of a Town Underscores Immigrants’ Impact
By Nelson Schwartz
May 5, 2013
PORT CHESTER, N.Y. — Nearly 20 years after he arrived penniless in this country from Mexico, Moises owns two restaurants, with a third on the way. He has five employees, an American wife and a stepdaughter. His food even has a following on Yelp.com.
What Moises does not have is American citizenship, or even a green card permitting him to reside legally in the United States. So he inhabits an economic netherworld, shuttling among his establishments on the bus and train because he cannot get a driver’s license and making do without bank loans or credit cards even as he files for zoning permits and incorporation papers.
While the estimated 11 million immigrants here illegally are often portrayed as dishwashers, farmhands, gardeners and other low-paid service workers, increasingly they are also business owners and employers. That is one reason economists say opening the door to entrepreneurs like Moises — whose last name is being withheld because of the risk of deportation — could give the American economy a shot in the arm.
The most prominent feature of the proposed immigration bill introduced by a bipartisan group of senators last month would provide residents of the United States who overstayed their visas or arrived illegally before Dec. 31, 2011, a long and winding path to citizenship, one that would probably take more than a decade to complete. But less noticed is that the legislation would offer such residents much more immediate provisional status, enabling them to work and travel legally.
That status would make it easier for immigrants here illegally to open businesses, buy big-ticket items like homes and cars and negotiate raises. All of these help explain why immigration reform is one of the few things economists on the left and right generally agree on these days.
While there is considerable debate about whether increased immigration depresses wages on the low end of the pay scale, most experts say allowing more new immigrants and offering a more secure legal footing for workers who are currently in the country illegally would bring the nation broad economic gains.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/06/business/port-chester-ny-is-transformed-by-immigration.html?_r=0
MUST READ: POLITICO: Gang of Eight plots path to Senate supermajority
By CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN
MAY 6, 2013
Senate immigration negotiators are targeting as many as two dozen Republicans for a show-of-force majority — which they believe may be the only way a reform bill will have the momentum to force the House to act.
Reform proponents are looking for votes far beyond the usual moderate suspects to senators in conservative bastions such as Utah, Georgia and Wyoming. The senators landed on the list because they’re retiring, representing agricultural states, anxious to get the issue behind the party, important to persuading skittish House Republicans or all of the above.
Gang of Eight push for supermajority - Mike Allen reports
But bringing along many of these staunchly conservative targets will require almost flawless execution by the Gang of Eight, along with lots of political momentum, a few more Democratic concessions and, perhaps above all else, the continued backing of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
Senators and their immigration reform allies insist the goal of 70-plus votes laid out last month by Gang of Eight leaders Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) is more than just attainable under the right circumstances — it’s imperative. The legislative strategy for passing a bill is based largely on the theory that an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote in the Senate is essential to getting it through the Republican-controlled House.
Schumer is trying to persuade Republicans by emphasizing what’s already in the bill, such as an overhaul to the agricultural visa program that the industry endorsed. Rubio is pressing the Judiciary Committee, which will take up the bill this week, to strengthen the border security requirements. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) may address concerns about the Boston bombings with an amendment mandating broader background checks for so-called high-risk immigrants.
“Once you start to see the momentum that has been behind this — and that we anticipate will continue through the mark-up and onto the floor — I think that it’s going be the type of thing where a lot of Republicans will want to jump all at the same time,” said Marshall Fitz, an immigration policy strategist at the liberal Center for American Progress.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/05/gang-of-eight-immigration-supermajority-90949.html
May 06, 2013 - Posted by Mario Moreno
It’s good for businesses and innovation
Big and small businesses depend on immigrants as producers, consumers, workers and entrepreneurs. Studies show that legal and undocumented immigrants have a positive overall economic effect on the U.S. economy—to cite just one example, 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants or their children.
It will boost our economy
A Center for American Progress study reports that providing legal status and citizenship to the 11 million undocumented immigrants would prompt a major boost to the U.S. economy over the next 10 years; an estimated $832 billion cumulative increase in GDP. DREAMers alone could add $329 billion to the economy by 2030.
They provide much needed skills and expertise to the economy
In both high and low-skill fields, immigrants bring skill sets that our economy needs. In STEM fields requiring an advanced degree, 230,000 jobs will not be filled by 2018 even if every U.S. STEM graduate finds a job. In fields like construction, which is expected to add 1.8 million jobs by 2020, nearly 60 percent of Latino immigrant construction workers arrived to the U.S. ready to contribute right away thanks to a deep knowledge of the field they had previously acquired.
We need the labor
It’s expected that the U.S. will need to add 25 million workers to the labor force by 2030 to maintain current levels of economic growth. With 76 million baby boomers retiring soon—and only 46 million U.S. born workers entering the workforce by 2030—immigrant labor is necessary to keep the economy growing and support our retirees.