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Key Amendments Filed in Senate Judiciary Committee to S. 744

 

Amendments are divided into the following topics:

Path to Citizenship
Legal Immigration
Border Enforcement
Interior Enforcement and Due Process
Employment and Labor Law
Integration and Public Benefits

Updated May 28, 2013 | Download PDF

Path to Citizenship

Good

  • Blumenthal 1 (Title II): Allows young DREAMers who are still in grade school to get green cards after five years, instead of penalizing 10-year-olds for not having high-school diplomas. (not raised)
  • Blumenthal 11 (Title II): Protects an immigrant from losing RPI status if he/she did not meet the “employment or minimum income” requirement because he/she was the victim of exploitation (i.e. a labor/employment law violation). (not raised)
  • Blumenthal 12 (Title II): Allows DREAMers to become citizens through military service. ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE
  • Blumenthal 15 (Title II): Moves cut-off date for physical-presence requirement to date of introduction (April 17, 2013). WITHDRAWN
  • Feinstein 14 (Title II): Moves cut-off date for physical-presence requirement to date of enactment. (not raised)
  • Hirono 12/Leahy 8 (Title II): Allows immigrants on the path to citizenship to pay fines in installments. HIRONO 12 ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE
  • Hirono 13 (Title II): Allows RPIs who become immediate relatives of USCs or LPRs to adjust status through the family relationship instead of the RPI program. (not raised)
  • Hirono 14 (Title II): Allows RPIs to petition for dependent children and spouses to obtain RPI status even if they are not already in US. (not raised)

Bad

  • Cornyn 3 (Title II): Bars immigrants from obtaining RPI status if they have a single misdemeanor in some cases (including domestic violence or DUIs), and prohibits immigrants with 3 misdemeanor convictions from receiving a waiver under any circumstances. FAILED
  • Cornyn 5 (Title II): Guts confidentiality provisions for all legalization programs, including blue cards, RPI status, and green cards for RPIs and DREAMers. In a similar vein, Grassley 10 requires the government to deport RPI applicants who are rejected. Both amendments will have the effect of discouraging immigrants from coming forward in the first place. CORNYN 5 FAILED (Grassley 10 not raised)
  • Cruz 3 (Title I): Prohibits anyone who has ever been undocumented from becoming a United States citizen—destroying not only the path to citizenship, but a hundred years of precedent in immigration policy. FAILED
  • Grassley 7-22 (Title II): Dramatically alter who is eligible for RPI status by changing eligibility criteria, including limiting the application period timeline and acceptable documentation, increasing fees, and eliminating waivers. GRASSLEY 11 FAILED; GRASSLEY 16 FAILED; GRASSLEY 17 FAILED; GRASSLEY 18 FAILED; GRASSLEY 19 PASSED (others not raised)
  • Hatch 3 (Title II): Collects a DNA sample from each adult applying for RPI status to be compared against an FBI database. (not raised)
  • Hatch 22 and Lee 10 (Title II): Requires payment of back taxes to immigrants who are legalizing, including all income and employment taxes owed while individual was in the US. LEE 10 FAILED (Hatch 22 not raised)
  • Lee 7 (Title II): Moves cut-off date for physical-presence requirement from December 31, 2011 to December 31, 2009, and bars spouses and children who entered the U.S. after 2011 from being included on their family members’ applications. (not raised)
  • Lee 11 (Title II): Requires all immigrants to pay the full $2000 in fines along the path to citizenship, with no ability to have fees reduced due to economic need. (not raised)
  • Sessions and Grassley both have amendments that would allow the government to deport people eligible for RPI status in the current bill.  After the bill becomes law, the government is supposed to pause the deportation of immigrants eligible for RPI status until they have a chance to apply.  Sessions 21 and Grassley 11 (both in Title II) terminate this logical provision.  Grassley 11 goes even further, making people ineligible for RPI status if they were ever in deportation proceedings.  GRASSLEY 11 FAILED (Sessions 21 not raised)
  • Sessions 10 (Title III), 19, 25-28 (Title II): Impose various restrictions on RPI status/adjustment to LPR based on potential eligibility for public benefits. Broaden the definition of “public charge” to include e.g. healthcare benefits. 19 and 28 allow state governments–like Arizona or Alabama–to prevent an immigrant resident of their states from obtaining legal status (19) or a green card (28) by telling the federal government that the immigrant “might” use a social service at some point. SESSIONS 10 FAILED (others not raised)
  • Sessions 22 (Title II): Bars any immigrant with a single misdemeanor conviction–even for driving without a license–from being legalized. (not raised)
  • Sessions 24 (Title II) and Grassley 8 (Title II) both eliminate the “right to return” provision that allows parents of U.S. citizens and green-card holders who have been deported to apply for RPI status. Sessions 24 also bars anyone who has reentered the country without papers after deportation from being legalized. (not raised)
  • Sessions 29 (Title II): Requires immigrants to maintain an income 4 times above the poverty line (over $90,000 for a family of four) for the entire 10 years they’re in RPI status in order to apply for a green card. (not raised)

Legal Immigration

Good

  • Coons 3 (Title II): Expands special immigrant status to include certain spouses and children of US Government employees abroad who are killed in the line of duty. ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE
  • Coons 4 (Title II): Dedicates merit-based visas for immigrants from countries that are underrepresented in other immigration programs (diversity). (not raised)
  • Coons 8 (Title III): Gives asylum applicants work authorization within 180 days of filing an application. ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE
  • Hirono has a number of family unity improvements to the bill (all Title II) including 5 which allows individuals to choose two members of their family for immigration; 6/7 which retain family-based immigration visas for siblings and older married sons/daughters of USCs; and 8 through 10 which make other family-friendly changes to immigrant and V nonimmigrant visas. HIRONO 10 FAILED (others not raised)
  • Klobuchar 1 (Title IV): Provides immigration status to certain battered spouses and children. PASSED
  • Leahy 5 (Title II): Provides visas and work permits for the spouses and children of certain agricultural workers. (not raised)
  • Leahy 6 (Title II): Guarantees equal rights in immigration sponsorship for all US citizens and legal residents, including those in same-sex relationships. (not raised)

Bad

  • Cruz 4 (Title II): Sets an absurdly low cap on family-based visas and strongly restricts qualifying relatives. FAILED
  • Grassley 72-76 (all Title IV): Restrict and set temporal limits on W visa program (“essential workers”). GRASSLEY 76 WITHDRAWN (others not raised)
  • Sessions 1 (Title IV): Caps the number of all immigrants who can be admitted or legalized over a ten-year period. FAILED
  • Sessions 47 (Title II): Bars allocation of “diversity points” under the new Merit-Based Visa system for immigrants from underrepresented countries (including most African countries). (not raised)

Border Enforcement

Good

  • Coons 2 (Title I): Prohibits Border Patrol from deporting immigrants to dangerous areas on the Mexican side of the border or moving them to another sector before deporting them. (Note: AVEF signed on to a letter supporting this amendment.) REVISED AMENDMENT ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE. (AS ADOPTED, DOES NOT PROHIBIT LATERAL DEPORTATION, BUT DOES MANDATE STUDY OF PRACTICES.)
  • Feinstein 6 (bipartisan) (Title I): Requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish standards to ensure humane conditions for children in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE

Bad

  • Cornyn 1 and Sessions 11 (both Title I) impose unreasonable border triggers. CORNYN 1 FAILED (Sessions 11 not raised)
  • Grassley 1, 3, 4 and 6 and Cruz 1 (all Title I): Increased border security measures. GRASSLEY 1 PASSED; GRASSLEY 4 FAILED; CRUZ 1 FAILED (others not raised)
  • Grassley 76 (Title IV): Delays the W-visa (essential worker) program until a biometric entry-exit system has been established nationwide. WITHDRAWN
  • Hatch 4 (Title 1): Requires border triggers to remain in place even if implementation is being held up by a lawsuit or by other major events beyond human control. (not raised)
  • Hatch 6 (Title III): Establishes a mandatory biometric exit data system at US airports with the highest volume of international air travel. PASSED

Interior Enforcement and Due Process

Good

  • Blumenthal 2 (Title III): Creates protections against the abuse of detention and the widely criticized use of solitary confinement. (Note: AV signed onto a letter supporting this amendment.) ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE
  • Blumenthal 8 and Coons 13 (both Title III): Prohibit ICE from conducting raids/arrests outside schools, churches, hospitals and other “sensitive locations” except under very limited circumstances. (Note: AV signed onto a letter supporting these amendments.) BLUMENTHAL 8 ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE
  • Blumenthal 10 (Title I): Prohibits local law enforcement agencies that acted unlawfully in detaining immigrants from obtaining federal reimbursement. (Note: AVEF signed on to a letter supporting this amendment.) PASSED
  • Blumenthal 14 (Title III): Prohibits deportation of immigrants for a crime that wasn’t a deportable/inadmissible offense when committed. (Note: AV signed onto a letter supporting this amendment.) (not raised)
  • Coons 5 (Title III): Requires DHS to provide any immigrant put into deportation proceedings with a copy of certain immigration records immediately. ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE
  • Coons 6 (Title III): Requires ICE and EOIR to keep detailed records on detainees, including legal authority for detaining the immigrant. ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE
  • Coons and Hirono both have amendments to improve cancellation of removal. Coons 9 (Title II) makes it substantially easier for both LPRs and non-LPRs to qualify for cancellation of removal, and removes the cap on the number of cancellations that DOJ/DHS can grant in a year.  Hirono 18 (Title II) eliminates the arbitrary cap on cancellation and suspension of deportation. COONS 9 ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE (Hirono 18 not raised)
  • Franken 7 (bipartisan) (Title III): Protects the welfare of children and the rights of parents when a parent is put into detention/deportation. PASSED UNANIMOUSLY
  • Franken 8 (Title III): Transfers responsibility for some trafficking enforcement to DOJ. PASSED AS AMENDED
  • Hirono makes other humanitarian changes to immigration enforcement and oversight, such as 22 (Title III) which extends protections for unaccompanied children, and 23 and 24 (both Title I) relating to the immigration ombudsman. 22 PASSED, 24 ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE

Bad

  • Grassley 21 (Title II): The bill restores ability for judges to stay deportations in some compelling cases.  Grassley’s amendment eliminates that discretion. (not raised)
  • Grassley 34 (Title III): Increases criminal penalties so that undocumented immigrants who have had to submit fake Social Security numbers to work can spend decades in prison. Also increases sentences for “harboring” which would apply to employers and family members. FAILED
  • Grassley has several amendments (43-47) (all in Title III) including even broader restrictions on immigration status for individuals alleged to be gang members or involved in domestic violence.  The provisions build on overreaches contained in the base legislation and needlessly harm individuals who are not members of gangs and who are actually victims of domestic violence. 43 FAILED; 44 PASSED AS AMENDED; 45 FAILED; 47 FAILED (46 not raised)
  • Grassley 53 (Title III) requires the indefinite detention of thousands of immigrants who cannot be deported, and strips immigrants of the ability to receive bond hearings—forcing them to stay in detention for as long as it takes for their case to be resolved. (Note: AV signed onto a letter opposing this amendment.) (not raised)
  • Hatch 1 (Title III): Makes identification document fraud a crime punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment in some cases. (not raised)
  • Sessions has several amendments weakening protections against abuse by CBP/ICE, including 37 (Title I) which eliminates requirement for DHS to devise a use-of-force policy and 38 (Title I) which eliminates training for DHS law enforcement agents in consultation with DOJ. (Note: AVEF signed on to a letter opposing this amendment.)  37 FAILED, 38 WITHDRAWN

Refugees and Asylum

Bad

  • Grassley 25 (Title III): Removes section from the bill on Clarification on Designation of Certain Refugees, which would increase protection to vulnerable groups (in particular persecuted religious minorities). (not raised)
  • Grassley 26 (Title III): Removes section from the bill on Stateless Persons in the U.S., which would provide to a small number of stateless persons (men, women, and children have no nationality) a path to legal status in the United States. (not raised)
  • Grassley 27 (Title III): Removes sections from the bill on elimination of the asylum filing deadline, that has barred thousands of bona fide refugees from asylum, and asylum determination efficiency provisions, which would improve the asylum process. FAILED (IN TWO PARTS)
  • Grassley 52 (Title III): Delays implementation of sections in the bill on elimination of the asylum filing deadline and asylum determination efficiency provisions until 1 year after review detailing the intelligence and immigration failures of the Boston Marathon terrorist attack is submitted to Congress by the Inspectors General. FAILED
  • Graham 1 (Title III): Terminates asylee and refugee status of any alien who returns to the country from which they were granted asylum if the individual cannot show good cause for the return.  It gives the Secretary discretion to waive termination for good cause and allows individuals to seek such a waiver before departure from the U.S.  Exempts aliens eligible for adjustment to legal permanent resident under the Cuban Adjustment Act. PASSED

Employment and Labor Law

Good

  • Blumenthal 4-5 (Title III): Strengthen protections for workers recruited abroad. BOTH ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE
  • Blumenthal 13 (Title III): Codifies ICE policy of not raiding workplaces where a labor dispute is happening. (Note: AV signed onto a letter supporting this amendment.) (not raised)
  • Blumenthal 17 (Title III/IV): Protects U.S. workers and H-2B visa holders who become whistleblowers about abuses in their workplaces. (Note: AVEF signed onto a letter supporting this amendment.) WITHDRAWN
  • Blumenthal 18 (Title III): Makes it an unfair immigration-related employment practice for an employer to withhold a worker’s employment records after he/she asks for them. ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE
  • Coons 1 (Title III): Notifies individuals when an E-Verify query is made on his/her record. ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE
  • Franken 1-6 (Title III): Creates an Office of the Small Business and Employee Advocate, enhances accuracy of the E-Verify system, requires accuracy reports by the Comptroller General and allows for notices when information is not filed in a timely manner. 2 (AS REVISED) ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE; 4 (AS REVISED) ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE (others not raised)
  • Schumer 5 (Title IV): Protects the ability of W visaholders (essential workers) to change jobs. ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE

Bad

  • Grassley 28-31 (Title III): Grassley 29 requires employers to use E-Verify within 18 months of date of enactment, an unrealistic timeframe when less than 10% of the American workforce is currently enrolled in E-Verify.  Other Grassley amendments allow employers to filter future employees through E-Verify before hiring and require information sharing across agencies. 29 FAILED; REVISED 31 ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE. (AS REVISED, 31 DOES NOT REQUIRE ICE TO TRACK ANYONE WHO RECEIVES A NON-CONFIRMATION IN E-VERIFY.) (others not raised)
  • Lee 14 (Title III): Allows people to hire undocumented immigrants—but only to work as domestic servants, like gardeners, maids and chauffeurs. (not raised)
  • Lee 15 (Title III): Weakens anti-discrimination prohibitions related to E-Verify by adopting a stricter definition of “discrimination” than current federal law. FAILED

Integration and Public Benefits

Good

  • Franken 9 (Title IV): Ensures access to affordable housing for battered immigrants. ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE
  • Hirono makes a number of improvements to health care and nutrition access, including 15 (Title IV) to restore Medicaid for COFA migrants, 16 (Title II) which eliminates 5-year bar to means-tested public benefits for legal immigrants and all immigration-related restrictions for children and pregnant women, and 17 (Title II) which counts time in provisional status toward  the “5-year bar” for benefits. 15 ADOPTED BY VOICE VOTE; 16 & 17 WITHDRAWN

Bad

  • Cruz 2 (Title II): Permanently bars any individual who was ever undocumented from receiving means-tested public benefits, ever. FAILED
  • Grassley 23 and Sessions 40/41 (all Title II): Would eliminate $150 million for direct assistance to immigrants seeking to integrate and become citizens. (not raised)
  • Hatch 21 (Title II): prohibits HHS from waiving restrictions on immigrant access to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. (not raised)
  • Hatch 23 (Title II): Adds a 5 year waiting period for benefits under the Affordable Care Act for RPIs who get green cards, after already waiting up to 10 years in RPI status. (not raised)
  • Sessions 31 (Title III): Denies the Earned Income Tax Credit to anyone who isn’t a USC/LPR or the spouse of one. FAILED

For More Information

America’s Voice Education Fund Highlights and Lowlights of S. 744

Bill Resources from Multiple Organizations