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News: Pending Immigration Reform Bills in the Senate

Pending Immigration Reform Bills in the Senate

As of March 1, 2006, three major bills are part of the Senate Judiciary Committee's debate that has now begun in Congress. One bill has been proposed by Senator Arlen Specter. Here are the highlights:

  • Would add 3,500 border agents and investigators over five years.

  • Calls for requiring entry-exit system at border with biometric identifiers.

  • Would elevate illegal presence in the United States from a civil to a criminal offense.

  • Applicants would pay $500 for visas, valid for three years, renewable once.  Workers would have to return to home countries for at least a year after visas expire.

  • Spouse and children could accompany a visa-holder and pay a $500 family fee.

  • Would allow illegal immigrants who can prove they were living and working in the United States before Jan. 4, 2004, to work legally. No time limit on work authorization. No path to legalization.

  • Calls for creating an electronic system to verify work status of employees, phased in over five years. Covers only new hires, except those in security-related jobs.

  • Calls for criminal penalties for businesses that knowingly hire illegal workers.

  • Senators McCain and Kennedy have also proposed a bill. Here are the highlights of their proposal:

  • Seeks cooperation with other countries to create a North American security perimeter and make improvements in border security south of Mexico.

  • Would give the Department of Labor authority to do random audits of employers.

  • Finally, Senators Cornyn and Kyl have proposed their own bill. Here are the highlights:

  • Seeks 10,000 new border patrol agents and 1,250 new Customs and Border Protection officers.

  • Calls for increasing penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants.

  • I will update this site as the various proposals make their way through Committee.

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