Immigration may have fallen from the national spotlight in the last week, but the Senate is wading back in to committee meetings in order to finish considering nearly 300 amendments. Among others accepted in Monday’s session, amendments were agreed to that facilitated law enforcement’s ability to identify and prosecute visa overstays, and allowed immigrants who were victims of human trafficking or domestic abuse to work while seeking visas.
The Senate had previously agreed to 48 amendments in the first round of committee meetings, and although the Senate Gang of Eight is holding together, not all amendments were moving in the same direction. Senator Hatch (R-UT) is advocating for lower restrictions on companies who want to hire high-skilled H-1B workers, specifically eliminating the restriction that they hire U.S. workers first. On the other end, amendments were introduced to increase job-posting requirements by companies who want to hire foreign labor. An amendment was also passed that increased fees levied on STEM immigrants looking to acquire permanent residency. It remains to be seen whether high-skilled immigrants will have an easier time acquiring visas if immigration reform passes.
Meanwhile the union that represents staffers at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services believes it was left out of the Senate Gang of Eight’s deliberations, and is opposing S.744 because it believes too many illegal immigrants will be legalized. That’s the second large union of federal workers to oppose the Senate immigration bill.
The Senate holds the spotlight on immigration reform for now, but reports that a bipartisan group in the House of Representatives have a tentative agreement on the principles for their version of comprehensive immigration reform – including a pathway to citizenship for current illegal immigrants – could mean a whole new round of amendments, committee meetings, and talking points.