The Senate bill has been in the negotiation process over the past few weeks and tinkering with the bill continues. As of now, it appears that many legislators agree on providing a pathway to citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., a new visa program for low skilled workers and increasing the number of high tech visas, but further measures on preventing future illegal immigration remain under scrutiny.
Over the past few weeks of deliberations, some proposals have advanced during committee proceedings to help ensure security of the U.S. On a recent vote, the legislators have agreed on a new requirement to mandate that foreigners leaving the country through any of the nation’s 30 busiest airports submit to fingerprinting. “This is an agreement that we need to build toward a biometric visa exit system,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. Lawmakers from both parties agree with this new step to increase security and have moved on to debate changes that would expand the cap on the H-1B high skilled visas. By raising the cap on the number of visas available from 65,000 to 110,000 and eventually more, legislators want to ensure that there is still room for other types of visas. An important part of negotiations is discussing economic conditions so that American workers are not disadvantaged because of an overflow in visas.
Throughout the negotiations, legislators have been making small compromises for provisions, but the ultimate outcome will remain unknown as the final vote can go either way. Senator Chuck Schumer commented that “This bill is not perfect,” but supporters of the bill have proven over the past few weeks that they are receptive to some changes to create a bill that satisfies the majority of people. Senator Marco Rubio, for example, has said he would like to tighten the fingerprinting requirement. “I will continue to fight to make the tracking of entries and exits include biometrics in the most effective system we can build when the bill is amended on the Senate floor,” he said. Other amendments to the bill include removing asylum or refugee status from immigrants who return to the country they fled, approving more visas for Tibetans and sharing information among federal agencies when people overstay their visas.
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