On Oct 01 2010 by Klasko Immigration

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill Introduced Into the Senate

On September 30, 2010, Senators Menendez (D-NY) and Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 (S. 3932) into the U.S. Senate.  The bill is the first comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced into Congress since 2007.  It contains provisions for enhanced border security, mandatory employment verification through E-Verify, fixes to the business and family visa systems, a legalization plan for undocumented aliens, and stiffer penalties on illegal immigration.

Highlights of the bill include:

  • Clarification that the power to regulate immigration resides with the federal government, not states and localities;
  • Provision of common‐sense rules governing the detention of families, elderly or ill immigrants, crime victims, and other vulnerable populations;
  • Mandatory use of an employment verification system for all employers within five years;
  • Creation of a new nonimmigrant visa program (H‐2C) to address gaps in existing worker programs that have lead to undocumented aliens.  H‐2C workers are eligible to apply for green cards after having worked in the U.S. for four years, or immediately if they are sponsored by their employer;
  • Assurance that the number of family and employment green cards authorized by Congress do not expire because of processing delays;
  • Expansion of the share of visas that each country can access within existing quotas that limit overall immigration;
  • Exemption for certain immigrants from counting against the annual green card quotas so that they can immediately reunite with loved ones in the U.S., including spouses and minor children of green card holders;
  • Revision of the unlawful presence bars so that individuals with family ties are not permanently banished from the U.S.;
  • Creation of a Lawful Prospective Immigrant (LPI) status for non‐criminal undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. since 9/30/10.  In order to transition from LPI status to Legal Permanent Residency, applicants are required to wait at least six years; pay taxes and a $1000 fine; learn English and U.S. civics; and undergo additional background checks. They will not obtain green cards before those who were waiting in line to immigrate as of date of enactment; and
  • Incorporation of the DREAM Act, which creates a path to legal status for individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, provided they meet age and other criteria and enroll in college or the U.S. military.

Klasko will continue to track the status of this bill on our blog.