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Senator Introduces 49 Amendments to the Immigration Reform Bill

860272_paper_pile.jpgAlmost immediately after the Gang of Eight introduced the comprehensive immigration reform bill (the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act“), Congress and political interest groups began debating its many provisions and discussing prospective changes they want made to the legislation before it is finally passed.

Although many Senators have proposed amendments to the bill, one of the most prolific amenders is Republican Senator Jeff Sessions (Alabama). Senator Sessions has introduced a total of 49 amendments outlining the additions, deletions, and edits he wants made to the legislation. The Senator’s amendments cover a wide range of topics discussed in the bill:

Establishing Limits on Incoming Immigration

The Senator proposes placing a limit (essentially, a cap) on the number of foreign nationals who may immigrate to the U.S. over the next decade. Senator Sessions argues that the current legislation does not provide clear or accurate numbers on the amount of immigrants who will come to the U.S. and that due to the proposed framework for helping undocumented nationals obtain residency, this number could be as high as 57 million.

The Rant

Senator Sessions’ proposed amendments have the potential to radically change immigration reform. If passed, many of these amendments would adversely impact prospective immigrants – as opposed to encouraging them to come to the country. We are committed to keeping readers up to date on the latest immigration news. Continue to check back with our blog for further information on the upcoming immigration legislation.

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Therefore, the Senator wants to cap the number of immigrants at 20 million over the next ten years. Although this amendment has been rejected, it is assumed that Senator Sessions (or another member of Congress) will likely introduce a same or similar provision in the future.

Ensuring New Immigrants Will Not Utilize Public Assistance

Senator Sessions has made it one of his top priorities to ensure that new immigrants will not utilize public assistance programs and he has introduced multiple amendments to that effect. These amendments include preventing a prospective immigrant from qualifying for citizenship if they would benefit from Medicaid and/or the Affordable Care Act, and requiring the Office of Management and Budget to confirm that the immigration bill is not increasing the federal deficit (if the Office cannot confirm, then immigration reform provisions would be automatically suspended).

The Senator also wants the immigration legislation to require that, before they can obtain green cards, all presently undocumented foreign nationals must prove that they have maintained an income of at least 400% of the federal poverty level during their entire stay in the United States.

Preventing Immigration from Certain Countries

Senator Sessions also wants to “reciprocate” in the instance when another country delays accepting or otherwise facilitating the deportation of its foreign nationals from the United States. If this occurs, the Senator proposes that the U.S. suspend its issuance of nonimmigrant (temporary) visas for foreign nationals of that country.

Crime in the Immigration Context

Currently, overstaying a visa is not a criminal offense – it is a civil one. Senator Sessions believes that this categorization of the offense does not discourage foreign nationals from overstaying. Therefore, the Senator would criminalize this offense, and would make overstaying one’s visa punishable by 60 to 90 days in jail.

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Appeal on Controversial Alabama Immigration Law, May 8, 2013
The Possible Impact of Sequestration for Employers and Immigrant Workers, ImmigRantings, April 22, 2013
USCIS Releases First Volume of Planned Comprehensive Policy Manual, ImmigRantings, February 21, 2013