4746703674_6db9d05520_bThe Senate Judiciary Committee’s mark-up of S. 744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” put forward by the bipartisan Gang of 8 group of senators, began on Thursday in front of a packed hearing room and with all 18 committee members in attendance.  Senators offered 32 amendments (out of the 300 filed), all relating to issues in the introduction and Title 1 of the bill. Of the amendments considered, the committee accepted 21 of them, with bipartisan support for all but one, while four were withdrawn. The primary change was to broaden the scope of the border security provisions. And as they had previously indicated, the four “Gang of Eight” members on the committee—Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (IL) and Chuck Schumer (NY) and GOP Sens. Jeff Flake (AZ) and Lindsey Graham (SC)—voted together against any amendment that undermined the bill’s core goals.

Here is a list of the amendments committee members approved during the first day of mark-up:

  • Leahy1: To prohibit border crossing fees at land ports of entry
  • Grassley2: To require certain reports to be submitted to the Judiciary Committee
  • Grassley5: To require annual audits of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Trust Fund
  • Sessions36: To expand the DHS Immigration Ombudsman’s role to include providing assistance to individuals and families who have been the victims of crimes committed by aliens  or violence near the United States border
  • Cornyn6: To include human trafficking as part 1 violent crime for purposes of the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program
  • Flake1: To add private land representatives to the Department of Homeland Security Border Oversight Task Force
  • Flake2: To require the Government Accountability Office to prepare an annual assessment of the status and progress of the Southern Border Security Strategy
  • Feinstein6: To require the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish standards to ensure humane conditions for children in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  • Feinstein7: To require that allocations to law enforcement agencies for Operation Stonegarden be allocated through a competitive grant process
  • Feinstein8: To require U.S. Customs and Border Protection to acquire and deploy watercraft to provide support for border-related maritime anti-crime activities
  • Hirono24: To set up an Ombudsman’s office within DHS to focus solely on immigration issues, substituting section 1114 of the bill
  • Schumer2: To allocate additional funding for startup costs for various programs established by the bill, which would be repaid to the Treasury through fees and fines
  • Grassley1: To apply border security strategies to all border sectors
  • Grassley24: To ensure accountability and oversight for taxpayer dollars awarded as Federal grants Feinstein9: To clarify the immigration-related criminal prosecution costs for which States, tribal, and local governments may be reimbursed by the federal government
  • Blumenthal10: To prohibit reimbursement of governments for prosecution or pre-trial detention of an individual if the attorney general concludes there is reason to believe that the individual’s underlying apprehension arose from unlawful conduct by a law enforcement official
  • Hirono23: To require DHS to give special consideration to family unity in making decisions about removal or referral for prosecution of individuals apprehended at the border
  • Feinstein1: To reauthorize and expand the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program
  • Feinstein10: To establish a grant program to improve the transportation infrastructure at existing and new international border crossings
  • Leahy4: To promote effective deterrents against unlawful border crossings and ensure that border fencing is limited to the Southern border
  • Feinstein2: To provide additional permanent district court judgeships in southwest border States

The committee’s mark-up process will continue on Tuesday. Instead of picking up with Title II of the bill, Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced that the senators will consider amendments to Title IV, which deals with nonimmigrant visas including the H-1B program, when they resume. “We made significant progress this week and have completed our work on the Border Security title,” Leahy said. “After reviewing the remaining amendments that Members may wish to offer, and consulting with Ranking Member Grassley, I have decided the best path forward is to move next to Title IV of the bill.”

Photo by Talk News Radio Service.

FILED UNDER: , , , ,