Tag Archives: CIR

Senate Passes Landmark Immigration Reform Bill

After two months of heated debate and much speculation in the media, S.744 – the bipartisan immigration reform has passed through the Senate by a margin of 68-32 (with 14 of 46 Republicans voting in favor). Along with the controversial provision of a “pathway to citizenship” for the 11 million undocumented residents, a significant increase to border security is prominently featured in the bill. Over the next ten years, $46 billion (this figure was $3 billion in the original bill) will be invested to: hire 20,000 new federal law enforcement agents, increase high-tech surveillance (including drones and infrared cameras) and finish construction of a 700-mile long fence along the border the Mexico-US border.

Despite the valiant bi-partisan collaboration in the Senate, the real challenge remains to be met in the House of Representatives, where Republicans are unlikely to support any bill unless the majority of their party is in full agreement.  John Boehner, speaker of the House, even went as far as to say that the Senate bill was “dead on arrival” and the House would have to come up with a radically different bill to address their major areas of concern – namely the issue of border security and what Republicans perceive as amnesty in the proposed pathway to citizenship.

Despite the uncompromising, hard-line attitudes from many representatives of gerrymandered, overwhelmingly white districts,  the Republicans as a party, have a lot at stake in their treatment of the immigration issue. With the election loss in 2012 still fresh in their mind – where Republicans only got 29% of Latino vote, the party will have to make tough choices between local and national politics. Every month 50,000 Hispanics reach voting age and will likely continue to vote Democrat, meaning Republicans could become politically irrelevant if they cannot come to a compromise on immigration.

If you follow our Facebook or Twitter, then you know about the immense economic and social benefits of immigration reform. However, we know there is no such thing as “no-brainer” legislation as evidenced by the failure to pass universal background for gun purchases. We will continue to closely monitor the immigration debate unfold and hope for the best outcome for the country. In the meantime, one should not forget about programs like DACA, VAWAU-Visa and the new stateside waiver program that continue to provide relief to immigrants during this time of uncertainty. 

We welcome your inquiries and feedback and look forward to keeping you up to date on all of the latest happenings in the immigration world!

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Highlights of the Immigration Reform Bill Released Today

S. 744 – the bipartisan bill, sponsored by Senator Charles Schumer was released to the public today. The 844 page document outlines a path to citizenship and addresses many of the pressing issues that create backlogs and inconsistencies within our immigration system.

As expected, the proposed legislation adds significant funding (~$3 billion) and resources to secure the southern border of the US.  About half of the funds will be allocated to build a two-layered border fence, while the rest will pay for increased surveillance and man-power in the border region. Additionally, an electronic exit system will be instated at all sea and airports throughout the country for consistent record keeping. 

To crack down on abuses in the employment-based categories, the bill calls for the implementation of an E-Verify system to check employment eligibility of all new hires. Employers heavily dependent (more than 50%) on foreign workers, will be punished with higher visa fees and limits on future foreign hires. At the same time, the H-1B cap for high-tech workers will be increased from 65,000/year to 110,000/year to meet growing demand in the industry. Finally, the spouses of H-1B workers will also be allowed a work permit, if their country of origin grants reciprocal benefits for US workers. New merit-based visa categories will be introduced, along with “new start-up visas” to promote the increase of immigrant entrepreneurs. 

Long awaited relief may finally arrive in the provisions for the 11 million undocumented individuals who currently reside in the US. If they are found to be eligible (not presenting a threat to national security and having paid a fee to the government), these individuals can apply for Registered Provisional Immigrant Status (RPI). After successfully maintaining said status for 10 years (5 for DREAMERS), a provisional immigrant can file for Lawful Permanent Resident Status i.e. Green Card – with eligibility for citizenship another five years down the line. This entire process will require that the immigrants maintain good moral character (stay out of trouble – no felonies, or more than three misdemeanors), pay taxes and fees to adjust their status. 

Lastly a new visa class will be introduced – W visa – for low skilled workers, which will replace the H-2A category. This status will be granted for up to three years (both at will and contract positions) and any potential employers must first register with the government and prove that their jobs necessitate the use of immigrant labor. 

This seems like a solid list of amendments to fix a malfunctioning immigration system, however aspects of concern still remain. For example, there could be long delays in processing and backlogs, unless significant resources are dedicated to dealing with the huge influx of petitions which will be filed in the next 5-15 years.

At this point, the bill will take 3 full days just to read start to finish – but it is important to nail down all of the minutest details as it could mean creating one of the world’s most efficient, economical and fair immigration policies. Challenges still remain, especially considering heavy opposition in the house and difficult compromises will have to be made, but it looks like we are on the right path. 

Read the entire bill here: http://cnsnews.com/sites/default/files/documents/Senate%20Immigration%20Bill.pdf

 

 

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Filed under Immigration Reform, News