On the second day of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s mark-up of S. 744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” the senators tackled most of the amendments to Title IV after finishing debate on a few border security amendments. The fourth section addresses the majority of non-immigrant temporary visas including those for high and less- skilled immigrant workers, entrepreneurship and innovation programs, as well as a range of miscellaneous visitor visas.
The committee members debated 29 amendments. Of the ones considered, the senators approved 15 amendments with mostly bipartisan support, and four were withdrawn. The committee continued to reject changes that would alter the spirit of the Gang of Eight’s bill, while agreeing to ones that help fill gaps in the measure, like Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) amendment to add about 10,000 temporary visas for African and Caribbean immigrants. And by a vote of 17-1, they overwhelmingly rejected Sen. Jeff Sessions’ (R-AL) amendment to cap the number of legal immigrants at 33 million over 10 years.
The amendments that the Senate Judiciary Committee adopted on Tuesday include:
- Feinstein 11: To modify the extent of the Southwest border region for purposes of border security
- Coons 2: To limit dangerous deportation practices, like nighttime deportations
- Schumer 1: Makes technical fixes to many parts of the bill
- Whitehouse 6: To modify provisions related to complaints against H1-B employers
- Grassley 58: To require additional information in Internet job postings for nonimmigrant employment in connection with the issuance of H-1B visas
- Hatch 9: To increase the labor certification fee from $500 to $1,000 and to use these fees to fund science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and training in the United States
- Schumer 3: To make certain nationals of countries that benefit from the African Growth and Opportunity Act or the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act eligible for E nonimmigrant visas
- Klobuchar 3: To require a pilot program to conduct interviews for certain nonimmigrant visas using secure remote conferencing technology
- Sessions 13: To require aliens who may be a threat to national security to submit to an in person interview with a consular officer when applying for a visa
- Hirono 15: To permit Medicaid coverage for citizens of the Freely Associated States who are living in the United States
- Grassley 69: To improve student and exchange visitor visa programs
- Schumer 4: To permit aliens with proficiency in certain foreign languages to qualify as J nonimmigrants
- Klobuchar 1: To provide immigration status for certain battered spouses and children
- Grassley 77: To require the Secretary to implement the transmission of data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System to databases used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection
- Hirono 2: To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to permit nonimmigrant alien crewman to land temporarily in Hawaii
The Senate committee’s mark-up of the immigration reform bill will resume on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said the senators will finish the last few Title IV amendments at that time before starting on Title III, including E-Verify.
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