National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

Blog & Updates

Legislative Update

February 24, 2009 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

Congress returns this week, after a week off for Presidents' Day recess. Here is where we stand so far with immigration legislation.

E-Verify: The battle over whether or not to turn the electronic worker verification program now known as E-Verify into a mandatory nationwide no-work list re-surfaced on the stimulus package. House Appropriations Committee member Jack Kingston (R-GA) offered an amendment to make receipt of money from the economic recovery package contingent on using E-Verify. It was approved by voice vote in the Committee, and remained in the House version of the bill. Despite efforts by Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in the Senate, mandatory E-Verify was not a part of the Senate bill. It was stripped out of the final version in the House/Senate conference.

The E-Verify issue will be back soon. It will be up for reauthorization in March, when the omnibus spending bill passed last year expires.

Read more about E-Verify on our blog here and here.

Obama on Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Even though at the moment President Obama is busy putting out a lot of fires, he hasn't forgotten about comprehensive immigration reform. He has been on some very highly-rated Spanish-language radio shows talking about the issue, noting in an interview with El Piolin on February 17 that "we have to get started working on it now." Read more on our blog.

Senate Immigration Subcommittee Membership: After the election, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), who is fighting brain cancer, stepped down from the Immigration Subcommittee in the Senate because he wants to focus his energy on health care reform. Senator Charles Schumer of New York will take over as Chair of the Subcommittee. You can read more in our Press Release.

Other members of the Immigration Subcommittee are listed here.

Children's Health Insurance: In the accomplishments category: on February 4th, the President signed into law a reauthorization of the State Child Health Insurance Program. In that program, the federal government partially reimburses states for costs of providing health insurance to uninsured children. The legislation signed on February 4th expanded coverage, and included a provision-the Immigrant Children's Health Improvement Act-that gives states the option to cover legal immigrant children. Up to now, states providing health care to uninsured legal immigrant children were not eligible to receive federal reimbursement in the child's first five years of legal residency in the U.S.

You can read President Obama's signing statement here.

States may now receive federal reimbursement for covering uninsured legal immigrant children-provided they act to do so.

You can read our press statement about ICHIA and shifting politics of the immigration debate.

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