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senate Bill S. 744

The "Gang of Eight" Immigration Reform Bill

Argument in favor

Immigration reform needs to be passed right now, and the most effective way to do that is including all these different provisions of our broken immigration system in one bill.

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04/09/2015
Comprehensive immigration reform is the best opportunity to encourage high-skilled labor, treat fairly the undocumented community, and protect U.S. borders all at once.
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05/26/2015
If all requirements are met then I see no reason to deny citizenship to qualified individuals.
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John's Opinion
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04/07/2017
This bipartisan bill deserves to be debated again in the Senate, and voted on in the House.
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Argument opposed

A bill this bloated is likely riddled with provisions that will have to be un-done at a later date. Approaching immigration reform one facet at a time will not only be more understandable, but it will gain more support.

Relmaster's Opinion
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05/26/2016
A bill this bloated is likely riddled with provisions that will have to be un-done at a later date. Approaching immigration reform one facet at a time will not only be more understandable, but it will gain more support.
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William's Opinion
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05/23/2015
The giant bills it keep get past too much bad stuff gets past when they are take the items one thing at a time and pass it
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Talbot's Opinion
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06/02/2015
Immigration reform is required but this bill is not it. No path to citizenship....a semi perminent green card may be ok. must track who is here and remove those who violate us law.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security
      Committee on the Judiciary
  • The senate Passed June 27th, 2013
    Roll Call Vote 68 Yea / 32 Nay
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
      Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedApril 16th, 2013

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What is Senate Bill S. 744?

This bill offers a plan for comprehensive immigration reform integrated with border security. It would offer legal resident status to 9.6 million undocumented people residing in the U.S. (the bill is based on estimates from mid 2013).

The Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) would be prohibited from processing applications for registered provisional immigrant status (RPI), as established by this bill. S. 744 authorizes the DHS Secretary, after handling the necessary security and law enforcement clearances, to offer RPI status to a person unlawfully in the U.S. who:
  • Meets specified eligibility requirements.

  • Applies before the end of the application period.

  • Has paid the required fee and penalty if applicable.

  • Has been physically present in the U.S. since December 31, 2011 and maintains such presence until RPI status is granted.

Establishes a processing fee for persons 16 years or older. Sets forth bars to eligibility based upon criminal convictions, terrorist activity, and grounds for excludability.

Provides derivative RPI status to the spouse or child of a person with RPI status if the spouse or child is physically present in the U.S. on the date that they are granted such status and meet specified eligibility requirements. Authorizes a person with RPI status to be issued a Social Security number, and enlist in the Armed Forces.

Allows the Secretary to adjust an RPI status to "lawfully admitted for permanent residence" if a person meets specified eligibility requirements, including:

  • Continuous physical presence.
  • Evidence of employment or full-time education.
  • English language skills.
  • Payment of taxes.
  • Security and law enforcement clearances.

The Secretary would be directed to implement:

  • A comprehensive strategy for achieving and maintaining effective control between ports of entry in all sectors along the Southern border.

  • Details of this strategy should include minimum requirements for deployment of surveillance technologies in the Yuma and Tucson, Arizona sectors; San Diego and El Centro, California; El Paso, Big Bend, Del Rio, and Laredo, Texas; and the Rio Grande Valley, including air and marine surveillance.

  • A Southern Border Fencing Strategy to identify where 700 miles of fencing and technology should be deployed along the Southern border.

A Comprehensive Immigration Reform Trust Fund would be established in the U.S. Treasury, and initial funding plus additional fees collected from the implementation of this Act would be provided.

Impact

Undocumented immigrants, non-citizens currently working in the U.S. legally, those outside the U.S. looking to immigrate, DHS, Congress.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 744

$23.00 Billion
The CBO estimates that this legislation would reduce budget deficits by $158 billion over the 2014-2023 period, increase spending by $23 billion over that period, leading to a net decrease in spending of about $135 billion for that period. However, this net impact would be greatly depend on future actions by lawmakers, particularly whether they appropriate more or less than anticipated. Because this spending would be discretionary, and discretionary spending is capped through 2021, increased appropriations for this legislation could lead to less funding for other areas.

More Information

Of Note: Here are some of the bill's highlights by department:

Border Security

The DHS Secretary would be directed to:

  • Increase the number of trained, full-time, active duty U.S. Border Patrol agents deployed to the Southern border to 38.405 by September 30, 2021.

  • Increase the number of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers by 3,500 by September 30, 2017.

  • Increase the number of trained CBP Air and Marine unmanned aircraft systems crew, marine agent, and personnel by 160.

  • Maintain and increase Office of Air and Marine flight hours to 130,000 annually by September 30, 2015.

Moving officers and agents from the Northern borders to the Southern borders would be authorized. The Secretary would also be required to establish a program to actively recruit members of the Armed Forces reserves and former members of the Armed Forces to serve in CBP and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Requires a report to Congress — prior to the hiring and training of additional CBP officers — on current wait times at ports of entry, officer staffing, and projections for new officer allocation at ports of entry designed to implement this Act. This would include the need to hire administrative personnel.

The governor of a state would be authorized, with the approval of the Secretary of Defense (DOD), to order National Guard units or personnel to perform operations in the Southwest border region to assist CBP in securing the southern border. Directs DOD to provide material and logistical assistance as needed.

The Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior would be directed to provide CBP personnel with immediate access to federal lands in the Southwest border region in Arizona for security activities. CBP would be required to deploy additional mobile, video, and portable surveillance systems, and unarmed/unmanned aerial vehicles in the Southwest border region to provide 24-hour surveillance.

Requires the CBP Commissioner to identify areas near the Northern and Southern borders where migrant deaths are occurring due to climatic and environmental condition, and deploy up to 1000 movable distress beacon stations.

The DHS Secretary would be directed to consider safety and family concerns in any action related to the repatriation or prosecution of individuals apprehended for immigration violations, and provide related training for CBP personnel.

A revision, with respect to maximum distances in a Northern border sector or district within which DHS personnel have the authority to board and search vehicles for aliens and to have access to private lands without a warrant for the purpose of patrolling to prevent the illegal entry of aliens into the U.S.

DHS would be prohibited from adjusting RPI aliens to lawful permanent resident status, with certain exceptions, until six months after the Secretary certifies to the President and Congress that:

  • They have deployed (with the minimum technological requirements) a "Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy" and a "Southern Border Fencing Strategy."

  • No fewer than 700 miles of pedestrian fencing, including the replacement of all existing fencing on non-tribal lands wherever possible. This would include a second layer of pedestrian fencing in areas deemed necessary or appropriate by the DHS Secretary.

  • A mandatory employment verification system to be used by all employers to prevent unauthorized workers from obtaining U.S. employment has been implemented.

  • The mandatory exit data system established by this Act is in use at all international air and sea ports of entry within the U.S. where Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers are currently deployed.

  • At least 38,405 trained, full-time, active duty U.S. Border Patrol Agents are deployed, stationed, and maintained along the Southern Border.

S. 744 authorizes the DHS Secretary to waive any legal requirements in order to ensure construction of the physical infrastructure pursuant to this section. A "Southern Border Security Commission" would be established. This commission’s primary responsibility would be to make border security policy recommendations and submit a related report to the President, the Secretary, and Congress. 


Immigration Visas

Prohibits a person with RPI status from applying for lawful permanent resident status until the Secretary of State certifies that immigrant visas have become available for all approved petitions filed before the date of enactment of this Act.


Authorizes the Secretary to adjust the RPI status of a person to that of a lawful permanent resident if the person demonstrates that they have:

  • Been in RPI status for at least five years.

  • Was younger than 16 years old when entering the U.S.

  • Earned a high school diploma or GED in the U.S.

  • Acquired a degree from an institution of higher education, or have completed at least two years of such a program, or have served in the Uniformed Services for at least four years with an honorable discharge.

  • Provided a list of each secondary school attended in the U.S.

Prohibits the Secretary from adjusting an RPI status to lawful permanent resident status unless a person satisfies citizenship requirements, submits appropriate biometric and biographic data, and undergoes security and law enforcement background checks.

Amends the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to repeal the denial of an unlawful alien’s eligibility for higher education benefits based on state residence unless a U.S. national is similarly eligible without regard to such state residence.

The Secretary would be directed to confer “blue card status” on aliens who have performed specified periods of agricultural employment in the U.S., or is their spouse or child, have applied for such status during the one-year application period (with a discretionary 18-month extension period), and is not ineligible under the grounds applicable to RPI aliens. After at least five years following the enactment of this legislation, the Secretary shall adjust the status of a blue card alien to permanent resident status if they have fulfilled the specified periods of agricultural employment.

Sets forth protections for aliens apprehended before or during the application period, or in removal proceedings.

Establishes the nonimmigrant agricultural (W-3 and W-4 visa) worker program. Employer and worker program provisions and requirements, including penalties for program violations and U.S. worker protections. Requires an employer to be a designated agricultural employer in order to employ individuals under the program. Sets a limit for the first five years of the program which may be adjusted annually based upon specified demand and economic factors. Excludes W-3 and W-4 workers from need-based federal financial assistance programs.

Future Immigration

Establishes a merit-based and points immigrant admissions system. Provides for 120,000 admissions per fiscal year, annual increases based upon specified admissions and employment conditions, and a maximum admissions cap of 250,000. Also provides for the recapture of unused visas, and lawful permanent resident status for such entrants.

For the first four fiscal years the worldwide level of merit-based immigrant visas shall be available for skilled workers, professionals, and certain other workers; for subsequent fiscal years preference will be given to tier 1 and tier 2 aliens based upon a point allocation system.

Tier 1 and tier 2 points to applicants for specified criteria, including: education, employment, entrepreneurship, high demand occupation, English language, age, country of origin, and family relationships.

Establishes a $1500 visa fee in addition to any application processing fee. Makes aliens with a pending or approved petition in another immigrant category and RPI aliens ineligible for a merit-based immigrant visa.

Employment Verification

Prohibits an employer from hiring, recruiting, or referring for a fee an alien who is not authorized to work in the U.S., or failing to comply with E-Verify or document requirements, and continuing to employ an unauthorized alien. Employers who have complied with document and E-Verify requirements would be provided with a good-faith defense to potential charges.

An employer would be required to examine specified documents to verify an individual’s identity and employment status, use an identity authentication mechanism once it becomes available, and retain verification records for the later of - three years after hiring, or one year after termination.

Requires an employee to provide an employer with such documents and attest that he or she is authorized to work in the United States.

Federal agencies and departments would be required to participate in E-Verify 90 days after the enactment date of this Act. Federal contractors’ E-Verify requirements would be stipulated by rule, and employers with more than 5000 employees to participate within two years after implementing regulations are published. Employers with more than 500 employees would be required to participate within three years, while agricultural laborers and all other employers must participate four years after enactment of the Legal Workforce Act.

Failure to participate in E-Verify would be a civil violation.

Within five years all Social Security cards issued shall be fraud-, tamper-, wear-, and identity theft-resistant. Authorizes appropriations to facilitate this. Amends the federal criminal code to make specified forms of Social Security fraud punishable by fine, up to five years’ imprisonment, or both.

Nonimmigrant Visa Programs

Establishes a nonimmigrant H-1B visa (specialty occupation) cap of 115,000 for the fiscal year after the date of enactment of this act, and a minimum of 115,000 visas and a maximum of 180,000 visas in subsequent years based upon market conditions. Would set these caps according to the fiscal year calendar, and establish sub-caps for specified periods of the fiscal year.

Requires employers hiring an H-1B or L-visa (for H-1B spouses) to pay a fee of $1250 for each petition filed by an employer with 25 or fewer full-time employees in the U.S., and $2500 per petition for an employer with more than 25 such employees.

Creates a nonimmigrant X-visa for a qualified entrepreneur who has secured $100,000 in investments from an accredited investor, venture capitalist, or government entity for such alien’s U.S. business; or whose U.S. business has created at least three qualified jobs during the previous two years and has generated at least $250,000 in annual revenue in the U.S. Provides for an initial three-year period of authorized admission, with three-year extensions based upon job creation, investment, or revenue, and up to two one-year extensions based upon performance waivers and economic benefit to the U.S.


Media:

(Photo Credit: Flickr user amberley johanna)

AKA

Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act

Official Title

A bill to provide for comprehensive immigration reform and for other purposes.