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