Category: Immigration reform


Senate Passes Comprehensive Immigration Reform; House Committees Deliberate on Piecemeal Legislation

August 3rd, 2013 — 12:29pm

On June 27, the Senate took a momentous step forward with a vote of 68-32 in favor of final passage of S. 744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.” The bill represents the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s immigration and border control laws in nearly 30 years, and moves the U.S. one step closer to its enactment.

The most publicized provisions of the legislation focus on legalization — and a path of citizenship for the 11 million undocumented individuals living and residing in the United States — as well as increased border security and enforcement.  There are, however, many fundamental and significant changes to the current system that will, if the bill is ultimately enacted, affect the future flow of immigrants as well as those currently in the United States in status. Some of the most significant changes were detailed in our update in June.

Now, all eyes are on the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Over the last several weeks, much speculation about the prospects of success for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) has focused on GOP leaders who face a series of difficult policy and political dilemmas.  For starters, CIR is popular with Hispanics (whose support is critical to win the White House in 2016) but not with the GOP’s base. Its approach thus far has been to deliberate on a series of piecemeal immigration reform measures, eschewing the comprehensive approach adopted by the Senate and favored by the Administration.

Those House committees that have jurisdiction over immigration already have passed several bills. These include: (1) the Agricultural Guestworker Act; (2) the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act; (3) the Legal Workforce Act (mandatory E-Verify); (4) the Supplying Knowledge Based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM Visas (SKILLS) Act; and (5) the Border Security Results Act. Hearings have also taken place on the DREAM Act. A key reform element missing in the House is provision for other undocumented immigrants.

The full House must still vote on these proposals, and whatever is finally enacted in the House must be reconciled with what was passed in the Senate. Reconciliation — even of key issues and provisions including legalization — can and is likely to take place during joint House-Senate conference committee negotiations.  Clearly, advocates for CIR have stressed that all key elements of reform must be covered in the final iteration of the bill.

With Congress adjourning for the summer in early August and not returning until after Labor Day, it is clear that the debate and discussion over comprehensive immigration reform will continue well into the fall. At this point, it seems that the earliest we can expect final legislation for the President’s signature is November or December.

Comment » | Immigration reform

Highly Skilled Immigrants: The Spark Our Economy Needs

June 9th, 2013 — 9:39am

If you pay attention to certain talking heads in the media, you may be inclined to believe that the higher the immigration rate, the harder it’ll be for workers already in the U.S. searching for employment to find a job. This notion couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, studies show that high-skilled immigrant workers actually create new jobs — particularly in the technology and engineering fields — for everyone.

According to a 2012 joint report from the Information Technology Industry Council, the Partnership for a New American Economy, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, every foreign-born student who graduates from college in the U.S. and goes on to work in the STEM fields creates, on average, 2.62 jobs for American workers — primarily because they help lead in innovation, research and development. Additionally, the Institute for the Study of Labor finds that highly skilled immigrants actually improve the wages of native-born workers who hold at least a bachelor’s degree.

Findings like these from credible bodies such as these make one thing very clear: In order for the U.S. to continue to grow its economy, it must build the best possible high-skilled workforce. And to build the best possible workforce, the U.S. must be willing to reform immigration law. Arbitrary decision-making by federal agencies has made immigration law unnecessarily complex. Many companies that recognize the need to diversify their teams with eager, smart talent are confused about how to legally open their doors to immigrants. And that’s where we can offer assistance.

Zulkie Partners is nationally recognized for its command of immigration law. We offer services that cover all aspects of corporate immigration law, including nonimmigrant work visas, permanent residence sponsorship and more.

Connect with us today to learn how we can help you further your hiring goals.

Comment » | Immigration reform

Debunked: 6 Myths About US-Mexico Border Enforcement

May 10th, 2013 — 5:29pm

Today, there are more agents along the 1,954 mile-long border that separates the United States and Mexico than ever before. According to a report from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), “Immigration Enforcement in the United States,” the amount of money the US Government spends on immigration has increased significantly in recent years — $18 billion last fiscal year alone. Currently, immigration is now the government’s highest criminal law enforcement priority.

With all of the political attention border enforcement receives, it’s no surprise that there have been a few myths that relentlessly permeate the discussion. Here, we debunk the myths and lay out the facts.

Myth #1: The US-Mexico border is violent.

While some areas of the border are dangerous, the US side is relatively safe. Two of America’s safest cities — El Paso, TX and San Diego, CA — are actually along the border. And although certain TV talking heads and  politicians claim the border is ripe with crime, the number of border apprehensions has decreased dramatically in recent years.

Myth #2: The border is a terrorist hub.   

According to the US State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism, “No known international terrorist organization had an operational presence in Mexico, and no terrorist group targeted US citizens in or from Mexican territory.”

Myth #3: The border is insecure.

With more than 20,000 Border Patrol agents assigned to protect the border and apprehensions at a 40-year low, it’s safe to say the border is  more secure now that it has ever been in recent memory.

Myth #4: Illegal immigration is on the rise.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, illegal immigration from Mexico has fallen to net zero or less.

Myth #5: There aren’t enough resources allocated to protect the  border.

The $18 billion that the US government spent on immigration enforcement in fiscal year 2012 is more than the amount spent on all other major federal criminal law enforcement agencies combined.

For more of the latest news that meets at the intersection of immigration and business, peruse our other blog posts.

SOURCES

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/07/ann-coulter-immigrants-want-to-live-here-illegally_n_2828772.html#slide=2151709

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/03/01/world/americas/border-graphic.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/13/jan-brewer-border-enforcement_n_2677777.html

Zulkie Partners is nationally recognized for its command of immigration law. We offer services that cover all aspects of corporate immigration law, including nonimmigrant work visas, permanent residence sponsorship and more.

Connect with us today to learn how we can help you further your hiring goals.

Comment » | Immigration reform

New Reports Confirm Must-Needed Job Creation and Economic Stimulus from Immigration Reform

April 27th, 2013 — 11:32am

We have periodically reported on new studies and reports that support the notion that immigrants and immigration stimulate the economy and create new jobs for U.S. business.  Here are some more:

  • A Kauffman Foundation report (February 2013), “Give Me Your Entrepreneurs, Your Innovators: Estimating the Employment Impact of a Startup Visa” states that between 500,000 and 1.6 million new jobs could be created over the next 10 years as a result of a “Startup” visa, a proposal to make 75,000 visas available for current holders of H-1B and F-1 visas.
  • The Center for American Progress (March 2013) reports that granting undocumented immigrants immediate citizenship would add $1.4 trillion to economic growth, increase tax revenues by $184 billion and create 203,000 jobs over the next decade.
  • A May 2012 report of The Partnership for a New American Economy and the Partnership for New York, concludes that America’s position as the global magnet for the world most talented and hardest-working is in jeopardy. In the report, entitled “Not Coming to America: Why the U.S. Is Falling Behind in the Global Race for Talent,” the authors compare America’s immigration policies with those of other nations — and finds our policies irrational and undirected, in sharp contrast with the targeted, strategic approaches seen elsewhere.  They outline six specific immigration reforms that the country should adopt to continue to attract the most talented, innovative, and necessary workers: (1) Provide visas to the STEM graduates educated in American universities. (2) Award more green cards based on economic needs. (3) Create a visa program to allow foreign entrepreneurs to build their firms in the US. (4) Let American companies hire the highly educated workers they need. (5) Give seasonal and labor-intensive industries access to foreign workers when they cannot find Americans to fill jobs. (6) Allow local governments to recruit more immigrants to meet regional needs. These are expected to be the main tenets of the new reform proposal.
  • And finally, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling added his voice to the choir in a recent White House blog, stating that common-sense immigration reform is good for the economy, and describing how it would grow America’s GDP, stimulate small business growth, create more jobs, boost demand for consumer goods, and more.

Zulkie Partners is nationally recognized for its command of immigration law. We offer services that cover all aspects of corporate immigration law, including nonimmigrant work visas, permanent residence sponsorship and more.

Connect with us today to learn how we can help you further your hiring goals.

Comment » | Immigration reform

Comprehensive Immigration Reform on the Fast Track: Concrete Bill Expected in March; VAWA and Other Legislation

February 23rd, 2013 — 2:32pm

For the last two months, comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) has dominated the airwaves, from President Obama’s inauguration address and State of the Union, to hearings in the Senate and House of Representatives, to almost daily news articles in major national and ethnic newspapers, on the immediate need to overhaul our country’s immigration laws, for the benefit of our country and for the more than 11 million undocumented currently living here.  So far, the Administration and leading senators have issued two independent proposals to fix our broken immigration system in a comprehensive and common-sense approach, and their quick action demonstrates a real commitment to getting reform done in 2013.

While the precise legislative provisions of a immigration reform bill are not yet certain, the key points outlined by President Obama and the bipartisan group of senators working on a bill are similar.  Overall, the Senate plan outlined the following key points:

  • Creating a “tough but fair” path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the U.S. that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
  • Reforming our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen American families;
  • Creating an effective, and probable, mandatory employment-verification system that prevents identity theft, ends the hiring of future unauthorized workers, and includes stiff penalties for egregious offenses;
  • Establishing an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers;
  • Reducing backlogs in the family and employment visa categories;
  • Providing permanent resident status to immigrants who have received a Ph.D. or Master’s degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM fields) from a U.S. university;
  • Establishing a new agricultural worker program.

Where are we now?  Leaders in the Senate have given themselves a deadline of March 1 to produce legislative language that embodies the principles they released. The Administration, which has privately drafted an immigration bill so that it can “be ready” if the Senate fails to continue to move forward, has made it clear that the President will take a back seat to lawmakers, but also wants to see real progress by March. Once a bill is introduced by the Senate, it will go through normal Senate procedure, including hearings and a markup in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Debate will follow, then a vote on the Senate floor. To overcome a potential filibuster – currently viewed as probable – the bill will need to receive at least 60 votes. Once passed by the full Senate, the bill would move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Already, a couple of congressional hearings have been held and more are to come. On February 13, the Senate Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on immigration reform, featuring DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and other witnesses. On February 5, the House Judiciary Committee kicked off its first immigration-focused hearing in the 113th Congress.

Meanwhile, the White House website has devoted a special section to President Obama’s 2013 comprehensive immigration reform proposal, with basic resources for the public and as a way to help advance the legislation.

It’s hard not to be extremely encouraged by the lightening-fast pace taken by Congress and the Administration to enact CIR. And, while the fight for a fair and balanced immigration system will continue over the next several months, the momentum for change is breathtaking.

We will keep you posted.

Senate Passes VAWA Reauthorization; House to Consider Bill

On February 12, the Senate passed by a vote of 78-22 the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a bill that strengthens protections for all victims of sexual and domestic violence, particularly Native Americans, immigrants, and LGBT survivors of violence. The bill passed with significant bipartisan support. All eyes now move to the House of Representatives, where the legislation will be considered. Despite bipartisan support in the Senate, VAWA stalled in the House last year.

Other Immigration Legislation of Interest

The House of Representatives recently introduced two bills that are likely to become part of CIR.  They are the Immigration Innovation (I2) Act of 2013, which makes changes to the H-1B and student visas and increases access to employment-based green cards; and Reuniting Families Act, which promotes family unity in the immigration system and improvements to the family-based immigration preference system. Significantly, and among other things, the bill allows same-sex partners to apply for family-based immigration benefits.

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