Hello to the readers of Working Immigrants. While Peter is traveling, I will be following some of the news stories about the immigration law – or any other related matters that I might find – and posting them here. I’m not the topic expert that Peter is, but my colleagues and I at Workers Comp Insider do keep our eye on issues related to immigrant workers and post on the topic from time to time.
Finally, an immigration bill is on the table, although we are now at the point in the process when Otto Von Bismarks’s famous quote comes into play: “People who enjoy sausage and respect the law should not watch either being made.”
The New York Times reports that the Immigration Bill Clears Its First Hurdle in Senate. To invoke cloture, 60 votes were needed and the measure had 69 votes. With Memorial Day looming, a decision was made not to continue debate post-holiday. The Times reporters noted that “The many obstacles that must be overcome before the bill becomes law were evident in the passionate speeches on the Senate floor in advance of the vote.”
It didn’t take long for critics from both sides of the aisle to be taking their case to the media, with Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Jim Bunning of Kentucky, and David Vitter of Louisiana spearheading the opposition. While there are critics on all fronts, The Washington Post discussed the particular rift that that the legislation is opening in the GOP.
The Los Angeles Times looks at the bill through the lens of how it might impact both businesses and immigrant families, summarizing a few key provisions of the legislation:
“The proposed shift is included in a massive immigration reform bill unveiled last week by Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, a Democrat, and Jon Kyl, a Republican. It would introduce a point system immediately as a basis for the 140,000 permanent visas awarded annually for workers and, after about eight years, increase that number to 380,000. Point systems are used in countries such as Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.
Under the proposed system, green card applicants could earn a maximum of 100 points. Job qualifications would account for nearly half the points, with the highest numbers assigned for specialty or high-demand occupations such as engineering, as well as smaller credits for technical expertise, a U.S. job offer, U.S. work experience and youth. Educational background could add 28 points, while those who speak fluent English could earn 15.
Family connections could bring 10 more points, but only for applicants with 55 points or higher.
For families, the Senate proposal would eliminate most of the backlog of 4.5 million relatives waiting for green cards over eight years. In a provision that has sparked outcry among immigrant rights groups, however, the bill’s May 2005 cut-off date would leave out 800,000 applicants, according to Karen K. Narasaki, president of the Asian American Justice Center in Washington.
… After the backlog is reduced, family-based visas subject to numerical caps would drop from about 226,000 annually to 127,000. The system would eliminate preferences entirely for adult children and siblings of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.
The proposal would also place a cap of 40,000 on parents of U.S. citizens for the first time. Only spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens would continue to have unlimited access to green cards.”
Employment Eligibility Verification System
One point of controversy for critics is in the proposed Employment Eligibility Verification System (EEVS). Technology publications are interested in the issue of mandatory employment verifications, which expands the current voluntary system that now has about 17,000 participants checking employees against Social Security and immigrant data. CNet news and PC World weigh in with discussions on concerns surrounding this component.
On Thursday 5/24/2007, the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law of the U.S. Representatives will be holding a hearing on immigration reform with an emphasis on Labor Movement Perspectives. The witness list has not yet been named – follow the developments on this hearing.