Under current law, no country can receive more than 7% of the total employment-based immigration visas made available worldwide. The cap ensures diversity in the employment-based immigration community, but it also means that workers in big countries, like India and China, who American tech firms might want to hire, have very little chance of actually securing a visa.
The House Judiciary Committee this afternoon is holding a mark-up of the first major immigration reform bill of this session, and it's designed to address this issue. The"Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act," introduced recently by Rep. Jason Chaffetz [R, UT-3], would remove the per-country immigration caps to make it easier for U.S. companies to hire foreign workers.Read Full Article
The DREAM Act, a bill that would give citizenship status to some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, received its first ever Senate committee hearing yesterday. The bill has been stalled in Congress since 2001. Yesterday's hearing indicates that Democrats, with support from the White House, are launching a major effort to rally support around this ahead of the 2012 elections.Read Full Article
For years, comprehensive immigration reform was a bipartisan issue. But with Barack Obama as President it has suddenly become extremely divisive. In the past two years, just about every congressional Republican that once supported a comprehensive plan that includes a path to citizenship for some of the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. has changed their position. Now that Senate Democrats are reintroducing the extremely-scaled back DREAM Act, which would only apply to immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, the extent to which Republicans are balking is becoming even more clear. Sen. Richard Lugar [R, IN], the only Republican to co-sponsor the bill last year, will not be returning as a co-sponsor this year.Read Full Article
With the new session of Congress quickly approaching, here's a look back at the most-opposed bills of the previous session that are likely to be introduced again next year. These are the bills with the most "no" votes among OpenCongress users, as tracked by our Battle Royale, that didn't become law in the past session. It's by no means a complete picture of political sentiments across the country, but it gives us a unique view into what specific proposals from Congress have gotten people concerned and engaged over the past two years.Read Full Article
The Senate has a busy afternoon ahead of them. After they finish their morning impeachment trial of a federal judge, they'll move on to a series cloture votes on some fairly significant domestic policy bills that have been kicking around the Senate for the past several years. As a reminder, cloture is a procedural motion to defeat opposition to debating a bill, and it takes 60 votes to pass. It's basically a vote on preemptively defeating a threatened filibuster.
Today's votes are the Democrats' last chance to move these bills past the Republicans before they lose a handful of seats to them in the next session and finding 60 votes on this stuff becomes all but impossible. Let's have a look at what's on the schedule:Read Full Article
What's actually going to happen in the lame duck session of Congress is still pretty much a mystery. But if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's [D, NV] word is worth anything, we now know for sure at least one bill that will get a vote, and -- no surprise here -- it's one with strong appeal to the Latino voters in Nevada Reid is counting on to help him defeat challenger Sharron Angle on Tuesday.Read Full Article
As expected, the motion in the Senate to begin debate of the 2011 Defense bill, which contains a provision repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and would be the vehicle for a possible DREAM Act amendment, was rejected this afternoon, 56-43. Sixty votes were needed to approve the motion.
Arkansas' two senators, Democrats Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, joined every Republican in voting it down. Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] technically voted "no" as well, but only in order to preserve his right under Senate rules to bring the motion to a vote again at some point in the future.Read Full Article
Congress enacted a stand-alone border security bill this summer. Now they're going to vote on a bill from the opposite side of the "comprehensive immigration reform" universe -- the DREAM Act -- that would create a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrnts that serve in the military or earn a college degree.Read Full Article
Acting on behalf of the full United States Senate, two senators took the afternoon out of their August recesses and returned to the Capitol this afternoon to pass a $600 billion border security bill, honor the late Sen. Ted Stevens, and advance legislation to protect guns from being taken by claimants in bankruptcy proceedings. You can watch the full 30-minute session and find more info about the legislation that inspired this mid-August-recess session by clicking through to read this post...Read Full Article
Congress just can't seem to give up legislating this August recess. Like the House did on Tuesday, the Senate is going to come back into session on Thursday after having adjourned last week for recess to pass a couple pieces of legislation. On the docket for the day are a border security bill and a resolution honoring the memory of former Senator Ted Stevens.Read Full Article
In the debate over immigration reform, Republicans have generally stuck to a few basic principles over the years. Improve enforcement of the borders, deport all undocumented immigrants, and refocus the immigration system to prioritize people with needed skills. But recently, Republicans in Congress have been moving more and more solidly behind a more radical idea -- denying legal citizenship status to the children who are born in the U.S. of undocumented immigrants.
Sen. Lindsey Graham [R, SC], one of the only Republicans who has engaged with Democrats in comprehensive immigration reform talks, recently came out in support of repealing birthright citizenship protections. “People come here to have babies," Graham said last week in an interview with Fox News. “They come here to drop a child." Graham's endorsement of repealing birthright citizenship was quickly followed up by the two highest ranking Republicans in the Senate. Minority Whip Sen. Jon Kyl [R, AZ] endorsed the idea on Sunday and Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell [R, KY] called for hearing on the issue the next day.
In the House, 94 Republicans, more than half of the House Republican Caucus, have signed on as co-sponsors to the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009, which states that only children who have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen, a legal permanent resident, or an undocumented immigrant serving in the military can be granted citizenship.Read Full Article
Here's a look ahead on some major issues facing Congress: campaign finance reform, energy reform, and immigration. On the first topic of fair elections, the DISCLOSE Act appears likely to be passed by the Senate this week. The future of the other two isseus is much less certain. On energy, if bipartisan support can be reached, then Sen. Reid's forthcoming new energy bill has a chance of becoming law. On immigration, observers are coming to consensus that comprehensive reform has little chance of passing before the November midterms -- but there's still lots happening on this important issue. Click through for more details and links to news coverage.Read Full Article
As Democrats were wrapping up -- or so they thought -- the health care bills last winter, two hot button social issues threatened to derail everything: abortion and immigration. With Democrats once again at the health care finish line, abortion has already resurfaced and now immigration has reemerged.Read Full Article
The Scott Brown-pocalypse continues. The future of comprehensive immigration reform, one-time a hot issue, is in doubt now that Senate Democrats have lost their supermajority.Read Full Article
While Congress continues to plow full steam ahead on health care, Democrats in the House recently took a big step forward on another huge and contentious issue, immigration. On Tuesday, Reps. Ortiz and Gutierrez introduced a comprehensive immigration bill that will serve as the starting point for Congress' work on the issue this session.Read Full Article