The Senate Judiciary Committee opened a debate yesterday and the committee might finish marking up the Senate immigration reform bill, by the end of this week. The committee first debated on Title III of the bill and then moved to Title II, that includes the path to US citizenship. The committee considered and debated on 50 amendments and adopted 30 of them. The Senate committee would change few provisions in the immigration reform bill and a provision that would permit the undocumented immigrants in deportation proceedings to obtain copies of their A files, would be included. Some of the amendments that were adopted would help the DREAMers to join the US armed forces and to attend college.
An amendment that would make a drunk driving conviction an aggravated felony was adopted and this amendment was filed by Senator Grassley. After the Senators finished their work on Title III, they reached Title II. The Senators did not want to adopt amendments that would make it difficult for the undocumented immigrants to apply for legal status. The Judiciary Committee will meet again tomorrow and discuss Title II, that is the most important part of the immigration reform bill. Amendments that deal with the H-1B visa program are still pending. Nevertheless, the Senators will finish their work on all the amendments by Friday.
Senator Leahy’s amendment that would provide work authorization for the undocumented immigrants who are eligible for T or U visas or for VAWA status, was adopted. Likewise, an amendment filed by Senator Graham that was adopted by the committee, would strip the asylees and refugees off their refugee or asylum status, if they return back to their home countries. The amendment of Senator Christopher Coons, would grant the undocumented immigrants in deportation proceedings the right to obtain copies of their immigration papers. Another amendment filed by Senator Coons would make sure that the asylees receive their employment authorization documents within 180 days from the date of filing their applications.
The amendment of Senator Feinstein that was adopted deals with border security and it would require all the foreign nationals who are applying for asylum of refugee status to undergo background checks. His amendment would also put an end to child trafficking. Amendments filed by few other Senators that were adopted by the Senate Committee deal with human trafficking and those amendments would protect victims of trafficking. Senator Blumenthal’s amendment that was approved would permit Registered Provisional Immigrants to become US citizens through the naturalization process, if they have served in the US Armed forces. An amendment that was filed by Senator Mazie Keiko Hirono and that was adopted by the committee, would permit the DREAMers to obtain financial assistance for college. Senator Hirono’s amendment would also permit the undocumented immigrants who are applying for Registered Provisional Immigrant status to pay the penalty in installments. Senator Feinstein’s amendment would grant certain categories of Tibetans entry into the United States.