Friday, May 26, 2006
ELI KANTOR PARTICIPATES IN STRATEGY SESSION FOR IMMIGRATION LAWYERS TO ADVOCATE FOR PASSAGE OF COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM LAW
ELI KANTOR PARTICIPATES IN STRATEGY SESSION FOR IMMIGRATION LAWYERS TO ADVOCATE FOR PASSAGE OF COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM- On Tuesday, May 23rd, Eli Kantor participated in a strategy session of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, (AILA) where the AILA national president and also advocacy director updated the Southern California AILA chapter as to the latest legislative developments on the eve of the Senate's passage of the immigration reform bill. Eli Kantor discussed strategies for influencing the House/Senate conference committee by bringing political pressure to bear. Ideas mentioned were the creation of a speakers bureau to speak to trade asssociations as well as community organizations, and working with the media to influence public opinion.
SENATE PASSES COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM LAW - On Thursday May 25th, in a historic vote, the U.S. Senate voted to approve compromise immigration reform legislation 62 to 36. This is the most significant reform of our immigration laws since 1986. It attempts to address 3 difficult problems: 1) securing our borders; 2) creating a temporary guest worker program to address labor shortages; and 3) what to do with the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country. The Senate bill authorizes the building of 370 miles of new fences and the addition of 6,000 new border patrol officers, and sending the national guard to the border to supplement the border patrol. It also creates a new temporary guest worker program for up to 200,000 temporary workers per year. The most controversial part of the legislation is what to do with the estimated 12 million people who are already here. After months of contentious debate and negotiations, they have finally worked out a "three tier compromise" whereby undocumented immigrants are divided into 3 categories: those who have been here for more than 5 years, those who have been here 2 to 5 years and those who have been here less than 2 years. Those persons who have been here for more than 5 years will be eligible for a "path to citizinship" through a program of earned adjustment, whereby they will be allowed to stay in the United States for 6 years as temporary workers and eventually receive a "green card" after paying a fine, back taxes, learning English and undergoing a criminal background check. Those persons who have been in the U.S. from 2 to 5 years, will be eligible to participate in the "guest worker" program; however, they will be required to leave the U.S. and then go to a port of entry and apply for readmission as a "tempory worker". On the other hand, those workers who have been here for less than 2 years will be required to leave or be deported. Of course, "the devil is in the details" as to how this program will be implemented. What level of documentation will be required to document how long they have been in the U.S. etc. Now, the Senate bill must be reconciled with the House bill which is :"enforcement only", that is it only is concerned with the first problem "securing our border". The house bill authorizes the building of a 700 mile fence along the border with Mexico, 6,000 new border patrol agents, more "interior enforcement", raising the penalty on employers who knowingly hire undocumented immigrants to up to $40,000 for repeated violations, and criminal penalties for repeated violators and most signifcantly, makes "unlawful presence in the U.S." into a felony, and makes renedering assistance to an undocumented immigrant a felony as well. Thus, it is clear that the gap between the House "enforcement only" approach and the Senate "comprehensive immigration reform" approach is enormous. President Bush is pushing very hard for the House and the Senate to iron out their differences in the House/Senate conference committee. President Bush would like to get a bill on his desk similar to the Senate version that he can sign before the November election. Whether he will or not is the question. Stay tuned for further developments.