U.S. immigration legislation (1987-2006)

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Immigration resurfaced as a high-profile issue in Congress during the 109th Congress (2005-2006). In both the House and Senate, bills were passed, though the two chambers could not come to an agreement and no measure was sent to President Bush.

Contents

House

Punishing employers for hiring illegal immigrants

The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (H.R.4437) was passed in the House by a 239-182 vote on December 16, 2005.

December 16, 2005
Passed, 239-182, view details
Dem: 36-164 opposed, GOP: 203-17 in favor, Ind: 0-1 opposed

The bill would have done the following [1]:

  • Force employers to confirm the authenticity of employees' Social Security numbers against a national database of legitimate numbers or face stiff new fines of as much as $25,000 per violation.
  • End the "catch and release" policy for immigrants other than Mexicans who are caught entering the country illegally and then released with a court date. All illegal immigrants apprehended at the border would have to be detained, and deportation processes would be streamlined.
  • Stiffen criminal penalties for smuggling immigrants, with new mandatory minimum sentences. Immigrant gang members would be rendered inadmissible under any circumstance. Mandatory minimum sentences would be established for immigrants who reenter illegally after deportation, and local sheriffs in the 29 counties along the Mexican border would be reimbursed for detaining illegal immigrants and turning them over to federal custody.
  • Appropriate $2.2 billion to build five double-layer border fences in California and Arizona, totaling 698 miles at $3.2 million a mile.
  • Empower local law enforcement nationwide to enforce federal immigration law and be reimbursed for their efforts.[2] [3][4]

Following the vote, Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), one of the House's most outspoken opponents of illegal immigration at the time, stated "For the first time, I can go out on the stump and say our party has done right on the issue of immigration...And I feel good about it."[5]

Senate

Comprehensive immigration reform

On May 25, 2006, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill (S.2611), 62-36. The measure, considered more favorable to illegal immigrants because it offered some a chance to work towards eventual citizenship, had called for 370 miles of triple-layer fencing along the Mexican border, as well as a three-tiered system for determining who could stay and who needed to leave the country (based on how long one had been in the U.S.). Specifically, those illegal immigrants who had been residing in the U.S. for five years or longer would be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship, provided they pay back taxes, learn English and had no serious criminal records. Those who had been in the country for two to five years would eventually have to return to another country and apply for a green card, which then would allow them to return. The roughly two million who had been in the U.S. for less than two years would be ordered to leave the country and be subject to deportation. [6]

Also, the bill would have provided 200,000 new temporary guest-worker visas a year, while creating a separate guest-worker program for immigrant farm laborers. It would also declare English as the country's national language. [7] [8]

May 25, 2006
Passed, 62-36, view details
Dem: 38-4 in favor, GOP: 23-32 opposed, Ind: 1 in favor

Articles and resources

See also

References

  1. Jonathan Weisman, "House Votes to Toughen Laws on Immigration," Washington Post, December 16, 2005.
  2. Charlie Norwood, "U.S. House Approves Norwood CLEAR Act," U.S. House of Representatives, December 16, 2005.
  3. Tom Tancredo, "Tancredo Assails Bush Immigration Plan," U.S. House of Representatives, January 23, 2007.
  4. Jonathan Weisman, "House Votes to Toughen Laws on Immigration," Washington Post, December 16, 2005.
  5. Jonathan Weisman, "House Votes to Toughen Laws on Immigration," Washington Post, December 16, 2005.
  6. Charles Babington, "Senate Approves Immigration Bill," Washington Post, May 25, 2006.
  7. Charles Babington, "Senate Approves Immigration Bill," Washington Post, May 25, 2006.
  8. Charles Babington, "Senate Approves Immigration Bill," Washington Post, May 25, 2006.

External resources

External articles

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