Senate Committee Continues Immigration Bill Mark-Up

May 15, 2013

This week, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary will continue their mark-up the gang of eight’s 844-page immigration bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S. 744). Last week, the Committee tackled amendments concerning Title I, which relates to border security. The Committee on Tuesday, May 14, skipped Title II and III due to jurisdictional issues still being worked out, and took up Title IV, which includes highly-skilled immigration and immigrant entrepreneur provisions.

The Committee will continue meeting throughout the week and is expected to take-up E-Verify language Thursday or possibly Friday. A number of amendments to the bill are expected to be offered to improve the E-Verify system, please click here for more details.

NSBA is urging all small businesses to contact their members of Congress and urge their support of reasonable immigration reform. Please click here to personalize NSBA’s draft letter and send it to your lawmakers today.

The bill was initially introduced by 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.) on April 17. Among the measures in the bill 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.

Please click here for more from NSBA on the various amendments offered.

Please read NSBA’s letters to the Senate and House on immigration reform.

Please click here to read a letter NSBA signed on to regarding this issue.

Please click here to view the bill text and here to view the legislative summary.

Please click here to read the list of amendments being offered.

Please follow us on Twitter at @NSBAAdvocate for updates.