Immigration to the U.S. is one of the most debated public policy issues - often around the questions of how many and from where. Anti-terrorism sentiments and national security concerns, fluctuating economic conditions overseas and protecting small American businesses are just a few factors that shape the U.S. immigration legislation. This article highlights hot immigration-related bills that are currently under discussion in the 109th Congress.
Currently, there is support in the Senate and House of Representatives for The Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act (S.1033 & H.R. 2330) which would establish new essential worker visa program (the H-5A visa) while also providing a mechanism by which eligible undocumented immigrants present in the U.S. on the date of the bill's introduction would adjust to temporary non-immigrant (H-5B) status; promote family unity and reduce backlogs; call for the creation and implementation of a national strategy for border security and intelligence; and promote circular migration patterns.
Additionally, there is support in the Senate for The American Competitiveness Through International Openness Now (ACTION) Act of 2005 (S. 45) which would amend the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 to facilitate United States openness to international students, scholars, scientists, and exchange visitors. The legislation also calls for improvements in visa processing, including allowing U.S. embassies more discretion in waiving visa interviews, reducing SEVIS fees for short-term visitors, and providing latitude to consular officers to issue visitor rather than student visas to some short-term English language students.
Despite some strong anti-immigrant sentiments post-9/11, there is opposition to the Emergency Immigration Workload Reduction and Homeland Security Enhancement Act of 2005 (H.R. 1912) which would basically shut down this country's immigration program by "temporarily suspending" both the immigrant and non-immigrant visa programs, adjustment of status, the visa waiver program, and temporary protected status renewals, among other things.
There is also opposition to the Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal (CLEAR) Act of 2005 introduced by Representative Charles Norwood. The bill would provide for enhanced Federal, State, and local assistance in the enforcement of the immigration laws and would amend the INA to authorize appropriations to carry out the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program.
Another significant bill that was opposed by the House of Representatives is the No Social Security for Illegal Immigrants Act of 2005 (H.R. 1438) which would amend title II of the Social Security Act to exclude from creditable wages and self-employment income wages earned for services performed by aliens without employment authorization and self-employment income derived from a trade or business conducted by an alien not authorized to perform such function or service in the United States.
Similarly, the Rewarding Employers that Abide by the Law and Guaranteeing Uniform Enforcement to Stop Terrorism (REAL GUEST) Act of 2005 (H.R. 3333) met with opposition in the House of Representative. Essentially, the bill would make unlawful presence a felony; impose severe restrictions on use of the H non-immigrant visa; suspend the Visa Waiver Program; authorize the use of military troops at the border; encourage state and local enforcement of immigration law; and increase employer sanctions.
Historical immigration reform is just around the corner and those impacted should seek out reputable lawyers known for quality of work and integrity. Wilner & O'Reilly is a law firm that specialize in immigration law. We support policies that strike an appropriate balance between security needs and due process protections. Family unification and the promotion of international exchange programs should be the foundation of Immigration legislation and reform.
BIOGRAPHY: Betty Chu, Esq. is an Associate at Wilner & O'Reilly, a firm specializing in Immigration Law. She is a member of the Los Angeles and Orange County Bar Associations and has been admitted to practice law in the Central and Southern Districts of California. Ms. Chu received her Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and her Bachelor of Arts in Communications from UCLA. She previously served on the American Bar Association's Negotiation Competitions Committee. She is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.