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C.I.R. UPDATES

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted with a strong bipartisan majority on Tuesday May 2013 to advance comprehensive immigration legislation that would put 11 million illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship. The legislation raises caps on high-skilled workers and creates a new visa program for low-skilled workers.

It would allocate billions of dollars to securing the southwestern border and tracking visas at airports and seaports around the country. It would make E-Verify mandatory for employers across the country in order to crack down on illegal workers and deter future waves of illegal immigration. The legislation passed by a vote of 13 to 5 with three Republicans joining 10 Democrats to approve the measure. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said it will come to the floor next month.

The three Republicans voting "yes" were Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.), who are members of the Gang of Eight, which crafted the bill, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah). Text of S.744 as introduced on 4/16/13. Do not include amendments. For a free consultation on Comprehensive Immigration Reform courtesy the Law Office of Figeroux & Associates, click here.

Senate panel approves major overhaul of US immigration

(IRISH TIMES)/Photograph: Drew Angerer/The New York Times
WASHINGTON D.C., United States, Wednesday May 22, 2013 -
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, left, and Senator Chuck Schumer, centre, shake hands with supporters after the committee approved legislation to overhaul US immigration laws, in Washington, last night.

A US Senate panel last night approved legislation to give millions of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, setting up a spirited debate next month in the full Senate over the biggest changes in immigration policy in a generation.

President Barack Obama, who has made enactment of an immigration bill one of his top priorities for this year, praised the Senate Judiciary Committee's action, saying the bill was consistent with the goals he has expressed.

"I encourage the full Senate to bring this bipartisan bill to the floor at the earliest possible opportunity and remain hopeful that the amendment process will lead to further improvements," Mr Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

By a vote of 13-5, the Senate panel approved the bill that would put 11 million illegal residents on a 13-year path to citizenship while further strengthening security along the southwestern border with Mexico, long a sieve for illegal crossings into the United States.

The vote followed the committee's decision to embrace a Republican move to ease restrictions on high-tech U.S. companies that want to hire more skilled workers from countries like India and China.

In a dramatic move before the vote, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, withdrew an amendment to give people the right to sponsor same-sex partners who are foreigners for permanent legal status.

Mr Leahy's colleagues on the committee - Republicans and Democrats - warned that the amendment would kill the legislation in Congress. Democrats generally favour providing equal treatment for heterosexual and homosexual couples, while many Republicans oppose doing so.

"I'm committed to ending that discrimination," Mr Leahy said before withdrawing the amendment.

"Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for not defending LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) families against the scapegoating of their Republican colleagues," said Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, a gay rights group.

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah said the changes made to visa rules governing high-skilled workers, which he had demanded on behalf of the US technology industry, were the price of his support for the bill when the committee voted. Mr Hatch voted for the bill. In another encouraging sign for the legislation, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he will not block the measure from coming to the floor for a full debate.

Mr McConnell of Kentucky did not say how he ultimately would vote on the bill, but he told reporters that the bipartisan measure "made a substantial contribution to moving the issue forward."