Friday, June 29, 2007

Immigration Reform is Dead...

The fight for comprehensive immigration reform is apparently dead, as of Thursday, June 28. The Senate failed (yet again) to bring an end to the debate and vote on the bill. The bipartisan bill, negotiated by several Senators from both parties, was supposed to appease both parties.

The Republicans wanted an enforcement heavy type bill that would criminalize immigrants for being out of status, give local law enforcement agencies the ability to enforce immigration laws and impose stringent laws on immigration violations. The Democrats on the other hands (at least some of them) wanted things like a better system to adjust status for immigrants, ensure due process (right to a day in court etc), better treatment of workers, and the DREAM Act.

Several Republicans and Democrats proposed amendments and once they were voted down, they decided to vote against the motion for cloture, bringing it short of the votes the Democrats needed to get the bill moving.

Now with the debate dead, it looks like it will stay that way until after the 2008 elections. House members said earlier that they would not bring a bill up in the House (not even the STRIVE Act) unless the Senate passes something.

So folks, it looks like after all that hard work, immigration reform can finally be laid to rest until 2009, sadly.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Senate to revive immigration bill

The Senate won its first major battle for Comprehensive Immigration Reform today with the motion to revive the stalled immigration bill by a 64-35 approval. the cloture motion called for the Senate to proceed with the bill.

As it stands right now, twenty four amendments are lined up to be debated and considered before the end of this week, with a motion to force an end to all debate by Thursday. Something similar happened last time but the Senator Reid failed to get the motion to pass.

More to come as updates become available!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Immigration Bill has been the center of controversy for the senate in the past several weeks. As Congress indecisively takes the bill off the floor and days later brings it right back on, the on going pattern of on the floor and off the floor leaves one to wonder what exactly the bill contains. Divided Republican and Democratic parties, incessantly arguing over amnesty provided to the 12 million undocumented immigrants, fail to realize that the bill contains much more than amnesty. Security, employment, education, and family unity carry more than a passive subdued overtone in the Immigration Bill.

The Bill aims to strengthen security on both, Southern and Northern, borders, as it increases surveillance technology, border patrol agents, weapons and machinery. It intends to increase diplomatic relations between the U.S and Canada and, more importantly, the U.S and Mexico in order to fight immigration and criminal offenses, including human and drug trafficking. The Bill proposes various methods to provide external and internal security. Therefore, although the Bill may seem flexible towards undocumented individuals, it certainly clamps down on criminal individuals that may have provided false information or documentation. Through the Bill, many are liable to detention, deportation, or voluntary removal.

As lawmakers aim to enhance security, they also look to enhance the economic situation with immigration in mind. A larger portion of the Bill focuses on temporary and agricultural alien employments. Persons admitted in the United States for employment through Y visas are allowed to work within the U.S for the allotted time. Employers are responsible for the undocumented individual’s labor security while the individuals profit from numerous benefits. These individuals, unfortunately, may never be able to readjust their status to lawful permanent resident, so long as the merit base system prevails and $3,000 of fines and fees remain. Benefits granted to primary non-immigrant individuals extend out to the immediate family members of the respected individuals. For purposes of family reunification, the Bill allows adjustment of status to the spouse or children of the individual; however, with the lengthy system the process can take over 20 years.

Similarly, education is given equal attention as the Bill grants individuals obtaining a bachelors or graduate degree in mathematics, engineering, sciences, or technology from an approved institution non-immigrant status student visas. Such individuals are permitted to participate in vocation during and after completion of their studies. They are, nevertheless, allowed a readjustment of status after completion of studies through the merit based system. For the purposes of family unity, any immediate family member is presumably also allowed an adjustment of status.

Though it seems that the Immigration Bill favors family, family reunification is highly dependant on the merit- based system. The merit based system is a system that assigns points to education, employment in certain fields, and English fluency. Individuals with the most amount of points are given higher priority for approved status, while inidividauls with minimal points are overlooked. With this system, family unity is only favored once an individual acquires 55 points. Thus, individuals seeking adjustment on grounds of family reunification may, in fact, never receive admittance unless these indivials previously maintained a sufficient amount of points.

Furthermore, through the Immigration Bill, individuals waiting to receive citizenship will face long delays due to backgroung checks. Background checks consist of inspections regarding names, documentation, criminal activity and the like. However, these extensive background checks may delay the citizenship process up to 2 to 3 years.

As the Bill addresses issues of education, family unity, and employment catering to the needs of non-immigrant status and immigrant status persons, many concerned individuals may bring forth the boisterous question “Does the Immigration Bill challenge the effects of Immigration on the U.S economy?” Rest assured, as Congress struggles to solve the immigration dilemma, it has not forgotten about the well being of its own country. This is apparent in the Bill itself, as lawmakers endeavored to enhance domestic security, favored citizen employment over alien employment, and proposed a study of the quality of life in the U.S with effects of immigration. Most telling, however, is the fact that the Bill advocates for the promotion of American values and customs.

immigration amendments?

In lieu of the march(es) in Washington D.C. and lobby days this week by immigration reform groups, the Senate is looking to take up immigration reform (again). This time, there is a vow to pass something before the Fourth of July recess.

There is an Obama/Grassley/Bacucus amendment that circumnavigates some of the more stringent provisions of Title III. The Senate bill has an entire title dedicated to employment verification systems. It would require employers to run employees' social security numbers through the Employment Verification System to make sure they are who they claim to be. If there a no match, they have to run it through a different system. The current bill also requires employees to submit a REAL ID Act compliant, biometric identification card but the aforementioned amendment goes past that.

Proponents are willing to call it a deal breaker... is it though?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Senate to Bring Back Immigration

As of last night, the members of the Senate have been negotiating to bring the immigration reform debate back to the Senate floor before the Independence Day recess. Senator Reid (D) has announced that he wants the bill to be debated after the Senate finishes with the energy bill currently on the floor.

Though he wants to open debate for only a week, pass a motion for cloture and defeat a filibuster (which as been threatened by several Republicans), the grass doesn't look all that green. The bill, brought for debate a few weeks ago before the motion to end debate failed and it was yanked off the floor, is a controversial one and some Republicans (ahem, Senator Cornyn, the Republican from Texas) think that the Democrats are holding the security provisions hostage in exchange for "amnesty" for the 12.5 million undocumented individuals in the United States.

What will happen?

It seems likely that some variation of the bill will pass out of the Senate (possibly before the recess) and go into conference. Some of the problems (like 'deal breakers') will be fixed while in conference so there is still some hope yet.

Monday, June 04, 2007

immigration, immigration, everywhere

So, it looks like the immigration debate is more heated than ever and we have returned from our four month hiatus. What is happening with the debate?

Well, for one, House members have introduced something called the STRIVE Act of 2007 and the Senate is currently debating a hodge podge of interesting amendments from more updated versions of the bills from last year. It seems that some of the amendments are trying to beef up security while others are trying to strengthen family reunification plans.

The Senate wants to get something out soon, before everyone starts focusing on the presidential debate so stay tuned to find out what happens next!