05.20.13

#CIRmarkup: Immigration Markup Enters Fourth Day

From The Senate Judiciary Committee Majority Staff
S. 744: The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act

#CIRmarkup: Immigration Markup Enters Fourth Day

RECAP:  The Senate Judiciary Committee has concluded three days of markup of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. The Committee has considered nearly 100 amendments, offered by both Republicans and Democrats to the “pre-title,” Title I, Title III, and Title IV of the bill, focusing on border security, E-Verify, and non-immigrant visas. 

Coming Up Today in the Committee

Today, the Committee is expected to continue consideration of Title III, which includes provisions concerning refugees and asylees, immigration courts, and trafficking.  Once it completes Title III, the Committee may turn as early as this afternoon to Title II, beginning with Subtitle A, concerning the path to citizenship.  The Committee is expected to work into the evening during today’s markup session.

*Scheduling Note: The Senate will hold up to two roll call votes at 5:30 p.m. today.

The United States Has Always Welcomed Refugees Fleeing Persecution

The United States welcomes more refugees than the rest of the world’s nations combined. As a result, the nation’s immigration system has evolved to ensure that refugees’ records are properly reviewed before they are granted admittance to the United States, including rigid and comprehensive national security background checks and law enforcement vetting.

The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act includes provisions to address cumbersome filing deadlines that have barred thousands of legitimate refugees from obtaining asylum in the United States. Many of these provisions are included in the Refugee Protection Act, which Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy introduced earlier this year. The comprehensive immigration reform bill also promotes family reunification; under current law, the spouses and children of refugees are not allowed to petition to bring their children to the United States. The bill addresses this shortcoming to allow the children and spouses of refugees to come to the U.S.

The bill also addresses issues of statelessness – a status where individuals find themselves without a country that acknowledges their citizenship. This status leaves individuals vulnerable to abuse -- including trafficking – and unable to enjoy the basic benefits that citizenship entails. The comprehensive reform bill will allow a person to safely come forward and apply to be recognized as a stateless person in the United States.

Importantly, the legislation will increase the number of U Visas available from the current cap of 10,000 to 18,000. U visas help law enforcement investigate and prosecute crimes, but for the last three years, not enough U visas have been available to meet the growing need. The issue was debated at length during the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act earlier this year, and law enforcement strongly supports raising the cap.

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