capitolatnightMonday, the Senate Judiciary Committee began its fourth day—and likely last week—of the immigration reform bill’s mark-up. After spending most of the day finishing the Title 3 (interior enforcement) amendments, the senators began on the last part of the bill, Title 2 (legalization), which includes the path to citizenship. They considered 50 amendments and approved 30 of them; five were withdrawn.

Over roughly eight hours of debate, the committee agreed to strong due process changes to S. 744, including providing immigrants in removal proceedings the right to access a copy of their A files. And they approved amendments from Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) that will help DREAMers who want to join the military or go to college.  For the most part, efforts to strip the bill of protections for asylum seekers, victims of domestic violence and trafficking were voted down.  Notably, an amendment to make three drunk driving convictions an aggravated felony (similar to an amendment adopted by the Judiciary Committee last year during the VAWA debate) offered by Senator Grassley passed 17 to 1, with Senator Leahy as the sole dissenting vote.  When the Senators finally reached Title II, after the dinner break, the Gang of 8 continued to keep a tight grip on the framework of legalization, protecting it from many amendments that would have made it more difficult for undocumented immigrants to qualify for the program,

Here are the amendments that the committee passed:

  • Leahy 3: To provide work authorization for immigrants who are eligible for status as VAWA self-petitioners or for T or U visas while applications for such status or visas are pending
  • Hatch 7: To terminate certain preferential treatment in immigration of Amerasians
  • Graham 2: To provide for information sharing for visa overstays
  • Klobuchar 2: To add elder abuse to the list of predicate crimes for U Visas
  • Franken 8: To provide for the transfer of responsibility for trafficking protections
  • Graham 1: To provide for termination of asylum or refugee status in cases of country return
  • Coons 5: To provide immigrants in removal proceedings the right to receive a complete copy of certain immigration documents
  • Hatch 6: To require the Secretary of Transportation to establish a pilot program for  mandatory biometric exit data system at airports in the United States with the highest volume of international air travel
  • Feinstein 4: To require background checks to be conducted on all refugees and asylees before they are granted such status
  • Coons 8: To ensure asylum applicants receive work authorization within 180 days of filing applications for asylum
  • Feinstein 5: To establish a pilot program to deter, detect, and prevent child trafficking
  • Franken 7: To protect children affected by immigration enforcement actions
  • Lee 16: To preserve the criminal offense of knowing use of a fraudulent immigration document
  • Coons 6: To require federal agencies with responsibility for detained aliens to maintain records on those aliens
  • Blumenthal 2: To protect immigrant detainees from unnecessary or inhumane solitary confinement
  • Lee 17: To make attempted misuse of a passport a criminal offense
  • Blumenthal 3: To ensure effective enforcement of protections against trafficking and abuse involving workers recruited abroad
  • Blumenthal 4: To revise the requirements relating to regulations on protections against trafficking and abuse in the recruitment of workers abroad
  • Blumenthal 5: To improve the authorities relating to protections against trafficking and abuse involving workers recruited abroad
  • Hatch 2: To impose enhanced penalties for certain drug offenses that take place on federal property
  • Hirono 22: To provide for enhanced protections for vulnerable unaccompanied alien children and female detainees
  • Grassley 44: To amend the definition of aggravated felony to include three drunk driving convictions
  • Blumenthal 8: To clarify the use of immigration enforcement authorities of the Department of Homeland Security at sensitive locations
  • Coons 10: To provide that individuals authorized to be employed in the United States may not be denied professional, commercial, or business licenses on the basis of immigration status
  • Blumenthal 12: To permit registered provisional immigrants who have honorably served in the Armed Forces and meet certain other conditions to become naturalized United States citizens
  • Graham 3: To require additional security screening for certain aliens
  • Hirono 21: To ensure that DREAMers qualify for certain types of federal financial aid to cover the cost of higher education
  • Hirono 12: To permit the entirety of the penalty payable in connection with application for registered provisional immigrant status to be paid in installments
  • Feinstein 3: To provide for the admission to the United States of certain Tibetans
  • Coons 12: To deny safe haven to foreign human rights violators

Tomorrow, the committee will continue discussing amendments to Title 2, which is expected to be the most contentious portion. And there are still amendments to the H-1B sections that had been delayed from last week. It will be a long week for the senators— Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) told the committee members Monday night that he is hopeful they can finish before Friday, and to do that, they will meet late into the night each day this week.

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