Bipartisan Immigration Reform Bill Introduced

April 17, 2013

pic-immigrationEarly this morning, April 17, around 2:00 a.m., a bipartisan group of senators —the so-called gang of eight— formally introduced their broad, bipartisan immigration reform bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744). Please click here to view the bill text and here to view the legislative summary.

The gang of eight, comprised of Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), has been working tirelessly over the past several months to reach a compromise on several of the more controversial aspects of the bill.

Although NSBA is still in the process of analyzing the 844 page bill, below are several provisions that were included in the measure and are of particular interest to the small business community:

  • Mandatory E-Verify for all employers with a 5-year phase-in which includes the requirement of a biometric green card and photo matching.  The bill contains employer penalties of up to $25,000 per E-Verify violation, which can be increased further if the business has had non-E-Verify labor, employment or OSHA violations, as well as prison sentences of up to five years;
  • Creates a new category of “unfair immigration-related employment practice” lawsuits which could subject employers to additional litigation;
  • Creation of a startup (or immigrant entrepreneur) visa;
  • Increases the base cap on H-1B visas from 65,000 to 110,000 with a max of 180,000 depending on economic demand and language increasing the exemption for students graduating from U.S. universities with an advanced degree in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields (STEM) from 20,000 to 25,000;
  • Creates a new temporary employment visa program (the W visa) with caps increasing up to 75,000 in the fourth year and a calculation to increase each year thereafter, however, these caps may be reduced dramatically if certain macroeconomic criteria are not met;
  • Creates a new agricultural visa program to replace the current H-2A program;
  • Creates a new immigration status called a Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) for which individuals currently in the U.S. illegally could apply, those approved could stay and work in the U.S. for 10 years after which they could apply for permanent resident status. This provision will only move forward once the Comptroller General ensures steps have been taken to implement a 90 percent effectiveness rate for border security.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled hearings for this Friday, April 19 and next Monday, April 22, to discuss the bill with the hope of reporting the bill out for full consideration in the Senates sometime this summer. The goal is to have legislation enacted by the August recess which begins Aug. 5, 2013. A group similar to the Senate gang of eight is developing a plan in the House.

NSBA recently sent a letter to Congress urging their support of key small-business provisions in any broad immigration reform proposal. Please click here to read the letter.

Additionally, NSBA released the 2013 Workforce and Immigration Survey which provided detailed insight on how immigration issues impact small business. Please click here to view the survey.

Please take a few moments TODAY to tell your lawmakers to support pro-small-business immigration reform.

Please click here to take the NSBA Quick Poll on how important immigration reform is to your business.