There is a huge disparity in Congress over the immigration bill and many reasons follow the changing deadlines for a vote and switching positions. But while Republicans were vouching for a piecemeal type deal for the bill, there have already been four smaller bills passed over the past few months.
Skills Visa Act
This bill proposed by Congressman Darrell Issa is a favorable one for the technology industry which has been strongly urging Congress to consider more visas for their worker needs. This raises the number of visas for highly skilled workers to 155,000. It also allows for 55,000 foreign graduates of U.S. graduate schools as well as 10,000 immigrant entrepreneurs to be able to obtain green cards. The problem with this bill is it decreases the number of green cards available through the annual lottery as well as the pool for siblings of green-card holders. While some are able to obtain green cards in a matter of months through these large tech companies, family members may still be put to the back of the line to wait to be reunited.
Legal Workforce Act
This act is important for U.S. businesses and makes E-Verify mandatory instead of voluntary. Employers are required to use the system within two years. The benefit of having this bill is businesses do not have to worry about being held liable for hiring or firing decisions as long as they can show “good faith.”
Agricultural Guestworker Act
This bill focuses on protecting lower skilled workers by requiring that farmworkers are paid at least minimum wage or the prevailing local wage. The difference between this bill and the proposed House’s package is it allows 500,000 annual visas for temporary farm laborers who can only stay for 18 months. The Senate would like to give farmworkers the chance to obtain citizenship after five years so that the workers can stay in the U.S. to complete jobs Americans do not want.
Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act
This is the most controversial of the bills dealing with Republican-backed border security. Under the new act, state and local law enforcement would have the power to arrest and detain undocumented immigrants. Currently this is only done by the federal authorities. State and local governments would also be allowed to write their own immigration laws and maintain ways of civilly and criminally punishing the undocumented immigrants. These requirements are far more extreme than the fencing and border patrol agents being offered in the current Senate Bill.
The common problem between each of the bills is that none of them gives 11 million immigrants a shot at citizenship. This is the main reason for the problem with a broken and inefficient system and yet they are left out of the solution.
If you have questions regarding the new immigration reform, applying for a visa or the changing immigration laws, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.