A massive immigration rally held last week resulted in the arrests of approximately 200 people, among them eight members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The protesters assembled outside the nation’s Capitol on October 8 in an effort to urge Congress to pass broad immigration legislation that includes a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally.
The arrested protesters included the following lawmakers: Joseph Crowley and Charles B. Rangel of New York, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Al Green of Texas, Luis V. Gutierrez and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Raul M. Grijalva of Arizona, and John Lewis of Georgia. Other arrested protesters included members of labor unions and immigrant organizations, as well as some religious clergy. According to the New York Times, the arrests came after the protesters sat down and linked arms in the same street during a rally held in the middle of National Mall by thousands of supporters of immigration reform.
Supporters of immigration reform are urging Congress to pass the proposed immigration reform legislation – called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act – that is currently pending in the House. Among other provisions, the immigration reform bill would:
- Create a “path to citizenship,” whereby undocumented immigrants would be able to receive green cards and apply for full citizenship after all other prior applications for green cards have been processed on behalf of people who have pursued a traditional path to full citizenship;
- Phase in mandatory use of the federal E-Verify system by employers so that they can accurately and consistently determine employment eligibility;
- Eliminate country-specific limits on employment-based immigration visas, which have previously caused huge backlogs for petitioners from large countries, such as India and China;
- Exempt from annual immigration visa caps certain “highly skilled” and “very talented” immigrants, including immigrants of ”extraordinary ability,” multi-national executives, graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (so-called “STEM” fields), and physicians who fill special medical needs or who work in medically underserved areas;
- Exempt all STEM applicants from the usual labor certification requirements; and
- Exempt from annual caps all spouses and children of all employment-based immigrants.
Although progress on immigration reform has slowed to a near halt in light of the recent federal government shutdown and budget debate, advocates of immigration reform continue to push for comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible, with the primary goal of obtaining a path to citizenship for immigrants who are currently in the country illegally. On October 5, more than 150 events were held in 40 states to put pressure on the members of Congress to pass federal immigration reform, and some speculate that House Democratic leaders may introduce a modified version of the legislation that passed the Senate earlier this year in an effort to pressure on House Republicans.
As dedicated Illinois immigration attorneys, the Shapiro Law Group continues to monitor developments in federal immigration reform as they occur. We will continue to keep you updated on any progress, delays, or other developments. In the meantime, we stand ready to serve those in need of immigration assistance, including those who are likely to be the beneficiaries of expected legislative reforms. Please contact us (847)564-0712 to speak with an experienced and qualified Illinois immigration attorney.