10 Immigration Amendments to Watch

Niels Lesniewski, Roll Cal (May 9, 2013)


The Senate Judiciary Committee’s marathon markup of the immigration overhaul drafted by the “gang of eight” senators kicks off Thursday morning, with 301 amendments filed in advance and available at the committee’s website.

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, a gang of eight member was the only senator who didn’t file any amendments. Filing an amendment is no guarantee that a proposal will be offered. The Illinois Democrat told reporters Tuesday that he expected senators would work to whittle down the number of amendments and combine related proposals, saying that his experience has shown that his Senate colleagues often tire of a prolonged legislative slog.

Here are just 10 of the amendments worth watching:


1. Uniting American Families Act

Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy has filed amendments that would allow same-sex couples in which one partner is an immigrant to be treated the same way as married heterosexual couples when it comes to immigration policies for partners. One version of the Vermont Democrat’s plan, which supporters are calling a compromise, would only apply to gay unions in states that allow them. The vote could be difficult for the gang of eight, however, given that group members Durbin and Sen. Charles E. Schumer support the proposal, but GOP participants have said it threatens to wreck the careful compromise.

2. DNA Collection and Testing

Republican Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, a former chairman of the Judiciary panel, filed an amendment to require DNA testing of samples from people with undocumented status seeking to qualify for the new “registered provisional immigrant status” established by the proposal.

3. H-1B Visa Caps

Hatch has several amendments designed to increase the number of high-skilled workers eligible for H-1B visas. The most straightforward approach would increase the cap on such visas to 115,000 with provisions for further increases within a fiscal year. H-1B visas are used by many companies in need of high-tech workers such as engineers, and those companies have been lobbying hard for the ability to hire qualified immigrants.

4. Little Dreamers

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is sponsoring what he’s calling a “Little Dreamers” amendment. It would expand the bill’s version of the DREAM Act to young children who more recently entered the United States illegally. “The Senate’s bipartisan immigration legislation is a historic step, but it should not exclude the littlest DREAMers – children brought to this country through no fault of their own who are too young to qualify for the five-year pathway to citizenship that the DREAM Act provides,” Blumenthal said in a statement.

(for more, please visit our friends at Roll Call)

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