Less than a quarter of the way into 2011, there are roughly a dozen new bills in the U.S. House and Senate related to immigration. Here is a snapshot summary of six of those bills that have received some attention in the press:
1. The E-Verify Modernization Act (HR 693): This is a Republican-sponsored bill to make the E-Verify program permanent and mandatory. It would also provide, to some degree, a safe harbor for employers in terms of “due diligence” on employee work qualifications. A similar competing bill under a different title is HR 800.
2. The SAFE for America Act (HR 704): This is another Republican bill that would eliminate the diversity immigrant program, which currently awards 50,000 visas annually by lottery selection of applicants from designated countries with lower rates of immigration to the U.S.
3. The Nuclear Family Priority Act (HR 692): This Republican bill, among other things, would reduce the number of fiscal year family-sponsored immigrants, and would establish a non-immigrant visa category for an alien who is a parent of a U.S. citizen at least 21 years of age.
4. The VISA Act of 2011 (HR 714): This is a Democrat-sponsored bill that would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to permit certain Mexican children and accompanying adults to obtain a waiver of the documentation requirements otherwise required to enter the U.S. as a temporary visitor for medical visits, student group visits and other designated temporary stays.
5. The Commitment to Legal Immigration and America’s Security Act (S 332): This is a Republican-sponsored bill in the Senate that would increase border security spending, and direct the Department of Health and Human Services to track annual spending for benefits extended to illegal aliens while creating mandatory exit procedures for foreign visitors (designed to improve tracking and data recording on suspicious travelers).
6. The USA PATRIOT Reauthorization Act (S 291): This Republican bill failed to pass on a recent floor vote in the Senate. But further debate is expected on some kind of compromise measure. This bill would have permanently extended counter-terrorism surveillance powers, including the ability of the Department of Homeland Security to executive roving wiretaps applicable to suspicious persons who are frequently purchasing and disposing of cell phones and other communications equipment to avoid detection. This is not, strictly speaking, an immigration bill, but this kind of legislation certainly could have a surveillance impact on both legal and illegal foreign visitors.
Our office will be ready to deal with any legal changes affecting the rights of foreign visitors to the U.S. For more information about our immigration practice representing individuals and families seeking legal status, please visit the pertinent section of our Website or call our office at (847) 564-0712.