Senate Debate Hits the Ground Running Today - UPDATE

 From the desk of Rich Stolz, Co-Director of FIRM Senate to Resume Historic Immigration Debate Today

Senators return from Memorial Day recess to begin debate on Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

This afternoon, Senators will resume debate on S 1348, the Senate's "Grand Bargain" on comprehensive immigration reform, also known as the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act of 2007.  The situation in the Senate is constantly changing given the complex nature of this bill.  However, the Senate leadership anticipates resuming debate on the bill Monday afternoon, and the Senate will begin voting on amendments to the bill beginning on Tuesday, June 5.  A vote to complete debate on the bill, which requires the support of 60 Senators, is expected late Thursday, June 7, and a final vote on the bill is expected as early as Thursday or Friday of this week.

The "Grand Bargain" includes the following elements:

- increased border security measures

- increased interior enforcement measures

- a new employment verification system that would apply to most employers

- a new temporary worker program that would allow no more than 200,000 guest workers to enter the United States each year

- a new point system that would govern future migration that would favor higher skilled, English-speaking immigrants with college degrees

- a new Z-visa program to legalize the 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States

- increased resources for citizenship

For a detailed analysis of the "Grand Bargain", including amendments passed by the Senate during the first week of debate, please see the attached document authored by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Statement of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement

"This week the Senate has the opportunity to improve on a hard-fought deal that marries an important but restrictive legalization program with a new anti-family point system and a flawed guest worker program.  For this legislation to pass, Senators must hold the line against a number of bad amendments that could undermine the legalization program that the immigrant community so desperately wants.

"There are also a number of critical amendments pending this week, some of which address parts of the deal that would drastically undermine the ability of family-members to join their loved ones in the United States.  These amendments include a proposal authored by Sen. Menendez to fix a provision in the bill that would only reunite families that applied for green cards prior to May 2005, and that leaves nearly 1 million prospective immigrants who have already legally applied to enter the United States.

"This week, the Senate must demonstrate its commitment to families, a fundamental principle in our nation's immigration system."

The following is a list of amendments pending before the Senate that are likely to be voted on this week:

·        Grassley 1166 on judicial review of visa revocations (RWG and AILA)

·        Cornyn 1184 on title II, and title VI eligibility (RWG and AILA)

·        Dodd-Menendez 1199 on reuniting USCs with foreign national parents (AAJC)

·        Menendez-Hagel 1194 on cutoff date for family backlog reduction (AAJC)

·        McConnell 1170 on HAVA and voter IDs (LCCR)

·        Feingold 1176 on WWII refugee study (HIAS)

·        Durbin-Grassley 1231 on requiring all employers seeking a Y worker to first attempt to recruit US workers (including in areas of labor shortage) (AFL-CIO and others)

·        Sessions 1234 on denying EITC to Y and Z visa holders (NILC)

·        Sessions 1235 on denying EITC to legal immigrants with less than five years in the US (NILC)

·        Lieberman 1191 on asylum and detention conditions (RWG and others)

·        Allard 1189 on denying access to green cards for Z visa holders (various)

·        Cornyn 1250 on gutting the confidentiality protections for legalization applicants (NILC and Forum)

·        Clinton-Hagel 1183 on treating spouses and minor children of LPRs as immediate relatives (LIRS)

·        Obama-Menendez 1202 on sunsetting the point system (AILA and others)