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Policy Update: Senate Committee Completes E-Verify Amendments

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 The amendment was withdrawn.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 The amendment was withdrawn.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 It was withdrawn.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 The amendment was withdrawn.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 The amendment was withdrawn.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.

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