May 25, 2006 – The Senate is moving closer to passing legislation that would simultaneously crack down on illegal immigration and give the majority of undocumented immigrants a shot a legal residency.
- Senateâ€™s Shot at Immigration â€˜Reformâ€™ Steers Less Exclusive Cours (Mar 28, 2006)
- Senate Immigration Bill Lacks Worker Protections (Apr 4, 2006)
Yesterday, senators defeated an amendment put forth by Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) to limit the duration of the proposed guest-worker program to five years.
Senator Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) successfully attached a provision to require undocumented immigrants gaining legal status through to bill to pay $500 toward enhancing border security. This fee would come on top of more that $2,000 lawmakers already planned to levy as part of the legislation.
Senators also approved a proposal by Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire) to shift a lottery program that doles out 50,000 visas a year to immigrant-hopefuls in certain countries so that people with science and math skills are favored.
Tuesday, Senators overwhelmingly approved Bushâ€™s plan to send hundreds of National Guard troops to assist the US Border Patrol along the US-Mexico line. And a majority declined to support an amendment proposed by Dianne Feinstein (D-California) that would have made the proposed bill more inclusive by opening a difficult path to citizenship to any otherwise eligible undocumented immigrant currently in the country.
In the legislationâ€™s current form, only undocumented immigrants who have lived stateside for five or more years could eventually obtain citizenship without leaving and reentering the country. Immigrants who have been in the US illegally for two years or more would have to go to the border and apply for a guest-worker permit. Those who have lived in the US without legal status for less than two years would have to leave the country and apply for a temporary work permit from home.
The legislation would also restrict immigrantsâ€™ access to the courts, enhance penalties for those who commit minor crimes and provide for increased detention of immigrants.