Summary of Status and Key Amendments Filed in Senate Judiciary Committee to S. 744 #cirmarkup

Courtesy of America’s Voice

Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act

May 14, 2013

Amendments are divided into the following topics:

Path to Citizenship

Legal Immigration

Border Enforcement

Interior Enforcement and Due Process

Employment and Labor Law

Integration and Public Benefits

Path to Citizenship

Good

  • Blumenthal 1 (Title II): Allows young DREAMers who are still in grade school to get green cards after five years, instead of penalizing 10-year-olds for not having high-school diplomas.
  • Blumenthal 11 (Title II): Protects an immigrant from losing RPI status if he/she did not meet the “employment or minimum income” requirement because he/she was the victim of exploitation (i.e. a labor/employment law violation).
  • Blumenthal 12 (Title II): Allows DREAMers to become citizens through military service.
  • Blumenthal 15 (Title II): Moves cut-off date for physical-presence requirement to date of introduction (April 17, 2013).
  • Feinstein 14 (Title II): Moves cut-off date for physical-presence requirement to date of enactment.
  • Hirono 12/Leahy 8 (Title II): Allows immigrants on the path to citizenship to pay fines in installments.
  • Hirono 13 (Title II): Allows RPIs who become immediate relatives of USCs or LPRs to adjust status through the family relationship instead of the RPI program.
  • Hirono 14 (Title II): Allows RPIs to petition for dependent children and spouses to obtain RPI status even if they are not already in US.

Bad

  • Cornyn 3 (Title II): Bars immigrants from obtaining RPI status if they have a single misdemeanor in some cases (including domestic violence or DUIs), and prohibits immigrants with 3 misdemeanor convictions from receiving a waiver under any circumstances.
  • Cornyn 5 (Title II): Guts confidentiality provisions for all legalization programs, including blue cards, RPI status, and green cards for RPIs and DREAMers. In a similar vein, Grassley 10 requires the government to deport RPI applicants who are rejected. Both amendments will have the effect of discouraging immigrants from coming forward in the first place.
  • Cruz 3 (Title I): Prohibits anyone who has ever been undocumented from becoming a United States citizen—destroying not only the path to citizenship, but a hundred years of precedent in immigration policy.
  • Grassley 7-21 (Title II): Dramatically alter who is eligible for RPI status by changing eligibility criteria, including limiting the application period timeline and acceptable documentation, as well as increasing fees.
  • Hatch 3 (Title II): Collects a DNA sample from each adult applying for RPI status to be compared against an FBI database.
  • Hatch 22 and Lee 10 (Title II): Requires payment of back taxes to immigrants who are legalizing, including all income and employment taxes owed while individual was in the US.
  • Lee 7 (Title II): Moves cut-off date for physical-presence requirement from December 31, 2011 to December 31, 2009, and bars spouses and children who entered the U.S. after 2011 from being included on their family members’ applications.
  • Lee 11 (Title II): Requires all immigrants to pay the full $2000 in fines along the path to citizenship, with no ability to have fees reduced due to economic need.
  • Sessions and Grassley both have amendments that would allow the government to deport people eligible for RPI status in the current bill.  After the bill becomes law, the government is supposed to pause the deportation of immigrants eligible for RPI status until they have a chance to apply.  Sessions 21 and Grassley 11 (both in Title II) terminate this logical provision.  Grassley 11 goes even further, making people ineligible for RPI status if they were ever in deportation proceedings.
  • Sessions 10 (Title III), 19, 25-28 (Title II): Impose various restrictions on RPI status/adjustment to LPR based on potential eligibility for public benefits. Broaden the definition of “public charge” to include e.g. healthcare benefits. 19 and 28 allow state governments–like Arizona or Alabama–to prevent an immigrant resident of their states from obtaining legal status (19) or a green card (28) by telling the federal government that the immigrant “might” use a social service at some point.
  • Sessions 22 (Title II): Bars any immigrant with a single misdemeanor conviction–even for driving without a license–from being legalized.
  • Sessions 24 (Title II): Eliminates the “right to return” provision that allows parents of U.S. citizens and green-card holders who have been deported to apply for RPI status, and bars anyone who has reentered the country without papers after deportation from being legalized.
  • Sessions 29 (Title II): Requires immigrants to maintain an income 4 times above the poverty line (over $90,000 for a family of four) for the entire 10 years they’re in RPI status in order to apply for a green card.

Legal Immigration

Good

  • Coons 3 (Title II): Expands special immigrant status to include certain spouses and children of US Government employees abroad who are killed in the line of duty.
  • Coons 4 (Title II): Dedicates merit-based visas for immigrants from countries that are underrepresented in other immigration programs (diversity).
  • Coons 8 (Title III): Gives asylum applicants work authorization within 180 days of filing an application.
  • Hirono has a number of family unity improvements to the bill (all Title II) including 5 which allows individuals to choose two members of their family for immigration; 6/7 which retain family-based immigration visas for siblings and older married sons/daughters of USCs; and 8 through 10 which make other family-friendly changes to immigrant and V nonimmigrant visas.
  • Klobuchar 1 (Title IV): Provides immigration status to certain battered spouses and children.
  • Leahy 5 (Title II): Provides visas and work permits for the spouses and children of certain agricultural workers.
  • Leahy 6 (Title II): Guarantees equal rights in immigration sponsorship for all US citizens and legal residents, including those in same-sex relationships.

Bad

  • Cruz 4 (Title II): Sets an absurdly low cap on family-based visas and strongly restricts qualifying relatives.
  • Grassley 72-76 (all Title IV): Restrict and set temporal limits on W visa program (“essential workers”).
  • Sessions 47 (Title II): Bars allocation of “diversity points” under the new Merit-Based Visa system for immigrants from underrepresented countries (including most African countries).

Border Enforcement

Good

  • Coons 2 (Title I): Prohibits Border Patrol from deporting immigrants to dangerous areas on the Mexican side of the border or moving them to another sector before deporting them. WITHDRAWN–MAY BE REINTRODUCED
  • Feinstein 6 (bipartisan) (Title I): Requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish standards to ensure humane conditions for children in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE

Bad

  • Cornyn 1 and Sessions 11 (both Title I) impose unreasonable border triggers. FAILED
  • Grassley 1, 3, 4 and 6 and Cruz 1 (all Title I): Increased border security measures. GRASSLEY 1 PASSED; GRASSLEY 4 FAILED; CRUZ 1 FAILED
  • Hatch 4 (Title 1): Requires border triggers to remain in place even if implementation is being held up by a lawsuit or by other major events beyond human control.
  • Hatch 6 (Title III): Establishes a mandatory biometric exit data system at US airports with the highest volume of international air travel.

Interior Enforcement and Due Process

 

Good

  • Blumenthal 2 (Title III): Creates protections against the abuse of detention and the widely criticized use of solitary confinement.
  • Blumenthal 8 and Coons 1 (both Title III): Identify locations where ICE can and cannot conduct “enforcement actions” (i.e. raids/arrests).
  • Blumenthal 10 (Title I): Prohibits local law enforcement agencies that acted unlawfully in detaining immigrants from obtaining federal reimbursement. PASSED
  • Blumenthal 14 (Title III): Prohibits deportation of immigrants for a crime that wasn’t a deportable/inadmissible offense when committed.
  • Coons 5 (Title III): Requires DHS to provide any immigrant put into deportation proceedings with a copy of certain immigration records immediately.
  • Coons 6 (Title III): Requires ICE and EOIR to keep detailed records on detainees, including legal authority for detaining the immigrant.
  • Coons and Hirono both have amendments to improve cancellation of removal. Coons 9 (Title II) makes it substantially easier for both LPRs and non-LPRs to qualify for cancellation of removal, and removes the cap on the number of cancellations that DOJ/DHS can grant in a year.  Hirono 18 (Title II) eliminates the arbitrary cap on cancellation and suspension of deportation.
  • Franken 7 (bipartisan) (Title III): Protects the welfare of children and the rights of parents when a parent is put into detention/deportation.
  • Franken 8 (Title III): Transfers responsibility for some trafficking enforcement to DOJ.
  • Hirono makes other humanitarian changes to immigration enforcement and oversight, such as 22 (Title III) which extends protections for unaccompanied children, and 23 and 24 (both Title I) relating to the immigration ombudsman. 23 PASSED, 24 ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE

Bad

  • Grassley 21 (Title II): The bill restores ability for judges to stay deportations in some compelling cases.  Grassley’s amendment eliminates that discretion.
  • Grassley has several amendments (43-47) (all in Title III) including even broader restrictions on immigration status for individuals alleged to be gang members or involved in domestic violence.  The provisions build on overreaches contained in the base legislation and needlessly harm individuals who are not members of gangs and who are actually victims of domestic violence.
  • Hatch 1 (Title III): Makes identification document fraud a crime punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment in some cases.
  • Sessions has several amendments weakening protections against abuse by CBP/ICE, including 37 (Title I) which eliminates requirement for DHS to devise a use-of-force policy and 38 (Title I) which eliminates training for DHS law enforcement agents in consultation with DOJ. 37 FAILED, 38 WITHDRAWN

 

Employment and Labor Law

Good

  • Blumenthal 4-5 (Title III): Strengthen protections for workers recruited abroad.
  • Blumenthal 13 (Title III): Codifies ICE policy of not raiding workplaces where a labor dispute is happening.
  • Blumenthal 17 (Title III): Protects U.S. workers and H-2B visa holders who become whistleblowers about abuses in their workplaces. (Note: AVEF signed onto a letter supporting this amendment.)
  • Blumenthal 18 (Title III): Makes it an unfair immigration-related employment practice for an employer to withhold a worker’s employment records after he/she asks for them.
  • Coons 1 (Title III): Notifies individuals when an E-Verify query is made on his/her record.
  • Franken 1-6 (Title III): Creates an Office of the Small Business and Employee Advocate, enhances accuracy of the E-Verify system, requires accuracy reports by the Comptroller General and allows for notices when information is not filed in a timely manner.

Bad

  • Grassley 28-31 (Title III): Requires employers to use E-Verify within 18 months of date of enactment, an unrealistic timeframe when less than 10% of the American workforce is currently enrolled in E-Verify.  Allows employers to filter future employees through E-Verify before hiring. Requires information sharing across agencies.
  • Lee 14 (Title III): Allows people to hire undocumented immigrants—but only to work as domestic servants, like gardeners, maids and chauffeurs.

Integration and Public Benefits

Good

  • Franken 9 (Title IV): Ensures access to affordable housing for battered immigrants.
  • Hirono makes a number of improvements to health care and nutrition access, including 16 (Title II) which eliminates 5-year bar to means-tested public benefits for legal immigrant children and pregnant women, and 17 (Title II) which eliminates the “5-year bar” for Medicaid and CHIP.

Bad

  • Cruz 2 (Title II): Permanently bars any individual who was ever undocumented from receiving means-tested public benefits, ever.
  • Grassley 23 and Sessions 40/41 (all Title II): Would eliminate $150 million for direct assistance to immigrants seeking to integrate and become citizens.
  • Hatch 21 (Title II): prohibits HHS from waiving restrictions on immigrant access to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.
  • Hatch 23 (Title II): Mandates 5 year waiting period for benefits under the Affordable Care Act, even in cases where federal law does not already mandate such a waiting period.
  • Sessions 31 (Title III): Denies the Earned Income Tax Credit to anyone who isn’t a USC/LPR or the spouse of one.

For More Information

America’s Voice Education Fund Highlights and Lowlights of S. 744

http://americasvoiceonline.org/research/highlights-and-lowlights-of-the-bipartisan-senate-immigration-bill/

Bill Resources from Multiple Organizations

http://americasvoiceonline.org/research/resources-for-s-744-senate-immigration-bill/

About David Leopold
Past President American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), In-the-Trenches practicing immigration Attorney, Blogger, Activist, Photographer, Educator, World Traveler. All opinions are my own.

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