The Senate Discusses Amendments to Immigration Reform

266426_librarians_landscape_i.jpgSince the Senate began debating the provisions of the comprehensive immigration reform bill (the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act"), many Senators have introduced proposed amendments to the bill in efforts to change, add, or delete key provisions of the legislation before it is presented for a final vote.

One amendment proposed by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley (Iowa) is expected to pass the Senate Judiciary Committee in the next few days. The goal of Senator Grassley's amendment is to improve the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) information-sharing policies with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP), regarding information about international students.

Specifically, Senator Grassley's amendment would require the DHS to send the CBP information concerning the validity dates of student visas in a timely and efficient manner. The amendment also provides that if such an information-sharing program is not implemented in 120 days, the U.S. would suspend the issuance of particular student visas.

The impetus for this amendment seems to be the recent Boston bombing tragedy. Earlier this year, one of the bomber's alleged accomplices reentered the U.S. even though his student visa had already expired due to the fact that his school had dismissed him. The CBP officials who processed the alleged accomplice through the immigration checkpoint were not aware that the person's student visa was no longer valid. Senator Grassley hopes that his amendment will address and prevent this type of miscommunication and error in the future.

While Senator Grassley's amendment is widely expected to pass the Senate Judiciary Committee, several other amendments have not been as successful. For example, Republication Senator Jeff Sessions (Alabama) proposed an amendment that would require foreign nationals to provide fingerprints at all entry and exit ports. The Committee rejected this amendment.

Additionally, Senator Sessions also introduced an amendment that would have capped the number of legal immigrants eligible to come to the U.S. at 20 million over the course of ten years. The Committee also rejected this amendment.

In fact, Senator Sessions has introduced 49 amendments to the reform bill. His other amendments include halting the issuance of nonimmigrant visas for nationals of a county if that country delays accepting its foreign nationals that are deported by the U.S., and specifically criminalizing the act of overstaying a visa (overstaying a visa is currently a civil violation as opposed to a crime).

Senator Sessions also wants the reform bill to require that all undocumented immigrants show proof that they have maintained an income of at least 400% of the federal poverty level during their entire stay in the U.S. before they can qualify for green cards.

The Gee Law Firm is closely following the progression of the immigration reform bill and will continue to provide readers with updated information on this legislation. However, it is likely that any version of the bill will not be passed for several weeks. Therefore, do not wait for the reform bill to pass before considering your immigration options. Contact our office today at 650-293-0270 and speak to a member of our legal team about your case.

Additional Blog Posts

Senate Unveils Initial Plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, February 6, 2013
Changing Minds About Immigration: UFW's "Take Our Jobs" Campaign, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, July 21, 2010

Immigration Reform / by Michelle Gee