The immigration news right now is dominated by the battle in Congress over the future of undocumented individuals and the future flow of immigrants to the United States. Here is an UPDATE on the most recent Immigration Reform activities in the US Congress:
–The House of Representatives is busy on the Immigration Reform issue as it takes a different path from the Senate. Yesterday the House Judiciary Committee passed a restrictive bill that, among other things, (a) makes being in the US without authorization a Federal crime and (b) gives state and local governments the authority to pass immigration-related laws. This is part of the “piece-meal” process that the House said that it would follow (the Senate is following a “comprehensive” approach – the difference is that the Senate’s approach deals will all issues, while the House currently wants only to address certain issues in separate legislation).
Also in the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner announced that he would not allow Immigration Reform to come to a vote unless at least half of the Republicans (a “majority of the majority”) agreed. He doesn’t want to see a bipartisan bill pass unless a majority of the Republicans agree. If his decision stands, it will be much more difficult for Immigration Reform to ultimately pass the Congress later this year.
At the same time, the media is reporting that the House of Representatives bipartisan “Gang of Seven” may finally be ready to submit its own stand-alone Immigration Reform bill. It will be, reportedly, a stricter version of the Senate’s Gang of Eight bill.
Does all this sound confusing? You are not alone – this is currently a mess in the House of Representatives.
–While the House was going in the direction of anti-immigration, the Senate continued debate on the “Gang of Eight” bipartisan Immigration bill. Debate on the bill is expected to continue for another two weeks or more.
Supporters of Immigration Reform were excited to read the report this week by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office [Full Report]. The Report projects that hundreds of billions of dollars will be added to the US Treasury if Immigration Reform passes. Opponents of Reform have long claimed that legalization would be a drain on the economy – the truth, it appears, is exactly the opposite.
Finally, the media is reporting that a group of Republican Senators have negotiated an amendment to beef-up border security measures. If these measures are adopted by the full Senate, they will reportedly support the overall legislation, making it overwhelmingly bipartisan at final passage. If the Senate can achieve unity on the final bill, the thought is that opponents of Reform in the House of Representatives will have a much more difficult time trying to derail fixing America’s broken immigration system.
Recent action by the United States Senate: Here is a summary (compiled by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)) of the Senate debate through Tuesday. Debate started on June 10, with the first vote (a vote to allow debate to continue) on June 11.
On 06/11/13 on a 84-15 vote the Senate successfully passed the motion to proceed on S.744 and began debate on the bill.
On 06/12/13 Senators took the floor to make opening statements and statements in support of various amendments. The three biggest debates today included: Sen. Cornyn’s (R-TX) border security/trigger amendment (RESULTS Act), which saw Sens. McCain (R-AZ) and Schumer (D-NY) fighting back against Sen. Cornyn as he made his case; Sen. Hatch’s amendments on limiting eligibility to public services for all immigrants and requiring payment of all back taxes while also limiting access to the EITC for RPIs; and the debate between the majority and minority party on how many votes amendments will require to pass (60 or 51).
On 06/13/13 the Senate voted to table Sen. Grassley’s amendment 1195 which would prohibit the granting of RPI status until the Secretary has maintained effective control of the borders for 6 months. The amendment was successfully tabled (essentially killed) on a 57-43 vote. At the end of that vote Sen. Reid announced that because the minority party had objected to the amendment agreement there would be no more votes for the rest of the week and that they would reconvene on Monday. He also indicated that Senators should be prepared to work through next weekend (June 22 and 23) in order to pass the bill before the end of the month.
Here are a few highlights from the debate:
Sen. Schumer (D-NY): This amendment would delay legalization for the 11 million people for 5-6 years. What do we do until then, what are we telling those 11 million? That if you hide successfully from the police then maybe 6 years from now you can have the right to work and to travel. This will clearly unravel the compromise of the bill. This amendment is opposed by all eight members of the “Gang of Eight.”
Sen. Leahy (D-VT): The pathway to citizenship must be earned, but it also must be attainable.
Sen. Grassley (R-IA): We were promised a fair and transparent process. This move to table the bill is the opposite of that. We were promised border security after the amnesty bill in the 1980s, and we never got that. If we allow the RPI process to go through there will be no pressure on this or future administrations to get the job done to secure the border.
On 6/18/2013 the Senate continued debating and voting on amendments to S.744. Here is the recap of the four amendments voted on Tuesday.
3:01pm the Senate voted on Thune Amendment 1197. The amendment would require the completion of the 350 miles of reinforced, double-layered fencing described in section 102(b)(1)(A) of the IIRAIRA before RPI status may be granted and to require the completion of 700 miles of such fencing before the status of RPIs may be adjusted to permanent resident status.
The amendment failed on a 39-54.
3:32pm the Senate voted on Landrieu Amendment 1222. The amendment would apply the amendments made by the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 retroactively to all individuals adopted by a citizen of the U.S. in an international adoption and to repeal the pre-adoption parental visitation requirement for automatic citizenship and to amend section 320 of the INA relating to automatic citizenship for children born outside of the U.S. who have a USC parent.
The amendment passed on a voice vote.
3:38pm the Senate voted on Vitter Amendment 1228. The amendment would prohibit the temporary grant of legal status to, or adjustment to citizenship status of, any individual who is unlawfully present in the U.S. until the Secretary of DHS certifies that the US-VISIT System (a biometric border check-in and check-out system first required by Congress in 1996) has been fully implemented at every land, sea, and air port of entry and Congress passes a joint resolution, under fast track procedures, stating that such integrated entry and exit data system has been sufficiently implemented.
The amendment fails on a 36-58 vote.
3:54pm The Senate voted on Tester Amendment 1198. The amendment would add 4 tribal government officials (2 from Northern Border region, 2 from Southern Border) to the Border Oversight Task Force.
The amendment passed on a 94-0 vote.
You can watch the Senate debate each day on www.CSpan.org (go to C-SPAN 2).
Share your thoughts in the comment section.