On Tuesday, April 16, 2013, the bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Eight” introduced S. 744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.”
The bill is widely described as a clear “compromise,” where no one person or party will get everything they want, including the President, however President Obama, in a statement he wrote on Tuesday urging the Senate to quickly move the bill forward, that the bill is consistent with his principles on comprehensive immigration reform:
“This bill would continue to strengthen security at our borders and hold employers more accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers. It would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are already in this country illegally, …and it would modernize our legal immigration system so that we’re able to reunite families and attract the highly skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who will help create good paying jobs and grow our economy.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill on Wednesday, but it has been postponed until Friday morning, according to the committee’s schedule.
Below are eight initial points of interest pulled from the bill’s provisions. This by no means a comprehensive review of the bill, but here are just a few things S.744 would do:
- Legalization: Allow noncitizens who are unlawfully present and who entered the U.S. before December 31, 2011 to adjust status to that of Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI). Eligible applicants would be required to pay a penalty and back taxes. Individuals in RPI status would receive work authorization and may travel abroad. They would also become eligible to apply for LPR status after 10 years, and can apply for naturalization 3 years after acquiring a green card. Includes generous provisions for DREAMers and agricultural workers.
- Family-Based Immigrants: Move the current FB-2A category into the immediate relative classification, allow for derivatives of immediate relatives, eliminate the FB-4 category, cap the age of eligibility of married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens at 31, and bring back the V visa.
- Employment-Based Immigrants: Exempt the following categories from the quota: EB-1 immigrants, doctoral degree holders, physicians who have completed the foreign residency requirement, and derivatives. Add a new “EB-6” category for certain entrepreneurs.
- Temporary Workers: Create a W-1 visa for lesser-skilled workers, a W-2 visa for aliens coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform agricultural services or labor under a written contract, and a W-3 visa for “at-will” workers with an offer of full-time employment in an agricultural occupation. The W-2 and W-3 visas would replace the current H-2A agricultural worker program.
- Asylum: Eliminate the one-year filing deadline and authorize asylum officers to grant asylum during credible fear interviews.
- E-Verify: Require all employers to be on the system after 5 years.
- H-1Bs: Increase the quota to a floor of 110,000 and a ceiling of 180,000, increase the U.S. advanced degree exemption to 25,000 but limit it to STEM graduates, add a recruitment requirement for all H-1B labor condition applications involving a detailed posting on an Internet site designed by the Labor Department, add a non-displacement attestation, change the prevailing wage formula, provide EADs for spouses, and add a 60-day grace period after an H-1B has been terminated from his or her job.
- Fraud: Make it a crime to knowingly defraud an immigrant or hold oneself out as an attorney or BIA accredited representative when one is not authorized to do so. Require the identification of individuals who assist immigrants with the completion of forms and empower the Attorney General with injunctive authority to act against an unscrupulous “immigration service provider” at the federal level.
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