Greenberg Traurig, LLP  




Immigration in Congress

111th Congress Highlights

  • Congress Passes Extensions of Religious Worker and Conrad 30 Programs
    On September 26, 2008 the Senate passed a bill (S. 3606) to extend the special immigrant non-minister religious worker program through March 6, 2009.  Continued... read full update here.
  • E-Verify Legislative Update (October 1, 2008)
    On September 27, 2008, Congress completed work on H.R. 2638 which contained a short-term reauthorization of E-Verify and extended the program until March 6, 2009.  Continued.... read full update here.

  • September 2008 Update from the Hill
    Congress has virtually ended its legislative year for 2008 with no real accomplishments on the immigration front. In the waning days of the Bush Administration and with an election on the horizon we expect to see:  Continued.... read full update here.

  • Legislative Update - House Judiciary Committee Marking Up Four Immigration Bills
    The House Judiciary Committee is currently marking up H.R. 5882--a bipartisan bill which will allow the recapturing of immigrant visa numbers that have gone unused in past years due to bureaucratic delays.  Continued.... read full update here.

110th Congress Highlights

  • Watch Out! Proposed Increases in H-1B Filing Fees
    On October 23, 2007, Senate Amendment 3396, the Grassley-Sanders amendment was included in the 2008 Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriation Act. Continued.... read full update here.

  • Senators Vote to Defeat the Comprehensive Immigration Bill
    The Senate this morning took a critical vote on a cloture motion, which was required in order to stop debate and proceed to a vote on final passage on the comprehensive immigration reform bill. Continued.... read full update here.
  • Update on Comprehensive Immigration Reform
    Reid, McConnell Statement on Immigration Bill (WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement today. Continued.... read full update here.
  • Comprehensive Immigration Reform Debate in the U.S. Senate
    GT's National Business Immigration and Compliance Practice co-chair, Laura Reiff continues to be in the thick of the negotiations and things are moving in the Senate...and they could move very quickly considering Wednesday is the deadline for a bipartisan immigration bill. If there is no bill, Majority Leader Reid will call up the comprehensive immigration bill which passed last year (S. 2611) and which everyone now seems to have a problem with. Continued.... read full update here.
  • Update On Upcoming Senate Vote on Comprehensive Immigration Reform
    On Wednesday, May 16, 2007, the Democrats indicated they will go forward with a procedural vote on last year’s SB-2611, if no new comprehensive immigration reform bill is agreed on.  Continued.... read full update here.
  • Update from Capital Hill
    The issue of comprehensive immigration reform has been brought back to the floor of the Senate by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev). Senator Reid has appealed to President Bush an ardent supporter of comprehensive immigration reform to lend his support to Senate debate. If Senate negotiators reach a deal in the coming days, Senator Reid has promised to bring the proposal to a vote.  Continued.... read full update here.
  • Recent Draft of White House Immigration Reform
    On April 5, 2007, a document dealing with immigration reform prepared by the White House was unintentionally released. The document outlines six major components of immigration reform: securing U.S. borders; reforming the employment verification process for employers and increasing penalties for non- compliance; creating a “Y visa” category for temporary workers; creating a “Z visa” category for current undocumented workers; requiring English proficiency, civics training, and an oath of allegiance; and making immigration policies simple, efficient, and workable.  Continued.... read full update here.
  • Introduction of Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill in the House of Representatives (STRIVE ACT)
    On March 22nd, Representatives Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced bi-partisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation in the House of Representatives. Entitled “Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy Act of 2007” (STRIVE Act) (H.R. 1645) this legislation is a good start to moving the immigration debate forward.  Continued.... read full update here.
  • Update From the Hill
    Greenberg Traurig Shareholder Laura Reiff is very hopeful that we will see positive changes to the immigration law. "We are working diligently to support a comprehensive solution to immigration reform. CIR is good for business, employees and for the American people" Reiff said.  Continued.... read full update here.


109th Congress Highlights

  • House and Senate Summertime Hearings on Immigration
    This month marked the beginning of a series of hearings that will be conducted nationwide to further examine the complexities of our failed immigration system and to determine what provisions a new piece of legislation needs to include to remedy the issues. Moreover, the hearings to be held throughout the summer will examine the nation’s labor needs and the porous borders that need to be secured.
    Continued.... read full update here.
  • Overview of Congressman Mike Pence’s (R-IN) “Pence Plan”
    Recently the White House invited Rep. Pence (R-IN) to discuss the Congressman’s immigration plan, dubbed the “Pence Plan.” Rep. Pence, a leading conservative in the House is a leading proponent of the House’s bill, H.R. 4437. In realizing that there were drastic differences between the House and Senate bill and what the President envisions, the Representative designed his own immigration reform proposal which he explained in detail last week to the President and Vice President Cheney.
    Continued.... read full update here.
  • Senate Passes the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006
    What a roller coaster ride 2006 Debate about comprehensive immigration reform has been. We sank low in December 2005, when the House passed a strict enforcement only bill (H.R. 4437) that did not include provisions for a guest worker program nor did it address the issues of 12 million undocumented immigrants currently living and residing in the U.S. However, in a rare instance of true bi-partisan collaboration, the Senate moved forward with balancing enforcement and border security with the economics and realities of the undocumented, but critical, workforce. Specifically under the leadership of Majority Leader Frist (R-TN) and Minority Leader Reid (D-NV) the full senate spent the past few months proposing, debating and revising legislation. Finally, late yesterday, May 25th, the Senate passed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S. 2611).
    Continued.... read full update here.
  • Update on Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006
    Motion for Cloture Filed: With the hope of bringing this debate to an end, Senator Frist filed for cloture on Monday evening, May 22. We anticipate seeing a vote on cloture by noon on May 23 and expect a vote on the underlying bill, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, not long after.
    The Senate Continues to Offer Up Amendments to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S. 2611): The Senate continues to debate the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 and offer amendments to the bipartisan compromise. Though there have been many amendments discussed and voted on in the last several days, we would like to bring your attention to the following amendments addressed this week:
    Continued.... read full update here.
  • Senate to Take Up Immigration Beginning Monday, May 15
    We have learned that comprehensive immigration reform legislation will go before the full Senate on Monday, May 15. It is our understanding that the Senate has set aside two-weeks to debate the issue on the floor with the hopes of passing a bill out of Senate before they adjourn for Memorial Day recess. Though no deal regarding procedure (number of amendments and conferees) has been agreed to, progress is being made and we anticipate that an agreement is forthcoming. It is important to note that the substantive compromise remains in tact. Click here to access a chart that outlines some of the major provisions of this bi-partisan compromise.
  • Another snag in Immigration Reform?
    As GT attorneys continue to assist in drafting a workable comprehensive immigration reform bill, the situation continues to change. Political maneuvers have come into play and are complicating the debate even further. Senator Reid motioned for cloture yesterday. What this means is that a Senate vote has to occur within one hour from the the start of business tomorrow morning.
    Continued.... read full update here.
  • Exciting News From Capitol Hill: Overview of the Bill Passed Out of the Senate Judiciary Committee 3/27/2006
    GT commends and applauds Chairman Specter and the Senate Judiciary Committee members for passing a bill out of committee on March 27, 2006. The legislative process ran its course and Chairman Specter remained committed to producing a bipartisan bill out of committee. It is our hope that Senator Frist will respect this process and the product passed out of the Judiciary Committee. Although the bill is not concrete and amendments can be made on the Senate floor, there was a great deal of progress made and the Committee product is a strong starting point for further debate on the Senate floor.
    Continued.... read full update here.
  • Senate Judiciary Committee Continues to Mark-Up Specter’s Mark: What does this mean to the business community?
    The Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA), is continuing to work towards comprehensive immigration reform legislation. As previously reported by GT, a draft of the Chairman’s Mark was released on February 24. The Senate Judiciary Committee began mark-up, the process by which the bill is analyzed and amended, on comprehensive immigration reform on Thursday, March 2nd with opening statements. The Committee continued its work on Wednesday, March 8th and Thursday, March 9th when it marked-up Title I Border Enforcement, Title II Interior Enforcement and began on Title III, Unlawful Employment of Aliens. Though the Committee set aside last Wednesday and Thursday to continue mark-up of Title III, Title IV, Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Visa Reform, Title V, Backlog Reduction, Title VI, Conditional Nonimmigrant Workers, it was unable to address each Title and no votes were taken. Due to an overwhelming number of amendments offered, the Judiciary Committee has not yet completed mark-up and it is unlikely that it will. Chairman Specter did however conduct frank and open discussions with committee members regarding some of the more contentious issues including a guest worker program and the undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
    Continued.... read full update here.
  • So Many Amendments, So Little Time: An Incomplete Mark-Up?
    The introduction of hundreds of amendments has impacted the mark-up process. With so many amendments being offered to the Chairman’s Mark, it is very unlikely that the entire comprehensive immigration reform bill will be mark-ed up. What this means is that many of the critical issues, including the undocumented currently within our nation’s borders and the proposed guest worker program, may not be debated.
    Continued.... read full update here.
  • Moving Towards Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation
    Updates to proposed comprehensive immigration reform legislation were released at midnight on February 24. Specifically the draft text of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (the “Chairman’s Mark”) was submitted by Sen. Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA). The bill is expected to be formally introduced and marked up this week, and could contain additional changes upon introduction. This legislation is a consensus building document and includes provisions that speak to a guest worker program and the undocumented population.
    Continued.... read full update here.
  • Department of Homeland Security Announces Extension of TPS
    In a continuing effort to assist El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua in recovering from the natural disasters that affected the Central American region, the Department of Homeland Security has announced a decision to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for an additional 12 months for all three countries.
    Continued.... read full update here.
  • The President’s American Competitiveness Initiative and Call to Increase the H-1B Cap
    During his State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 31, 2006, President Bush spoke briefly about immigration reform, specifically mentioning the need and importance of a guest worker program. What was not mentioned during the address, but was addressed in a press release from the White House released the same day, was the President’s commitment to the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI). This initiative, ACI, encourages American innovation necessary to compete in a global economy.
    Continued.... read full update here.
  • Reaction to the State of the Union: The Business Community Stands Ready to Work Collaboratively with the Administration on Comprehensive Immigration Reform
    The business community is pleased with the comments made by President Bush during the State of the Union regarding immigration. In addressing and acknowledging the value of immigrant workers and noting the indispensable contributions they make to our nation, the President stated that...
    Continued.... read full update here.
  • A Closer Look at the Guest Worker Proposals being Considered by the Senate
    One of the major sticking points in the comprehensive immigration reform debate is the guest worker program. The House bill did not include a provision allowing for a guest worker program, the Administration supports a program and the Senate is currently debating the issue. Click here to take a closer look at the some of the key measures being proposed.
  • The Senate to Take Up Comprehensive Immigration Reform
    The Senate reconvened on Wednesday, January 19, 2006 for the Second Session of the 109th Congress. According to Senate leadership, we can anticipate a debate on measures that address comprehensive immigration reform in early March, following the Alito confirmation hearing and hearings on the NSA domestic wiretapping program. We expect that the Senate will go beyond the House’s enforcement only approach and we have reason to believe that a temporary worker program will be part of the Senate’s reform bill.
    Continued.... read full update here.
  • Diverse Immigration Coalition Calls on Senate for Comprehensive Immigration Reform that Addresses the Real Issues
    In opposition to the House bill, the Essential Workers Immigrant Coalition (EWIC), a group of business leaders, immigrant advocates, religious leaders and union leaders united and held a press conference in Washington, D.C. on January 19 , 2006 to discuss real comprehensive immigration reform measures. “It is encouraging to see divergent organizations coming together to support a total reform of our broken immigration system,” stated Laura Reiff, an immigration attorney at Greenberg Traurig and EWIC co-chair.
    Continued.... read full update here.
  • Reactions After the Passage of Rep. Sensenbrenner’s Bill, H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005
    Read reactions from GT’s Business Immigration Group, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Business Community, Unions and Human Resource Executives.
    Continued.... read full update here.
  • What is the Next Step in Comprehensive Immigration Reform?
    According to Senate leadership, we can anticipate a debate in February on measures that address comprehensive immigration reform. We expect that the Senate will go beyond the House’s enforcement only approach and we have reason to believe that a temporary worker program will be part of the Senate’s reform bill.
    Continued.... read full update here.
  • Senate Confirms Emilio T. Gonzalez as Director of USCIS
    On January 3, 2006, Emilio T. Gonzales, Ph.D., will take office as the Director of USCIS. In the interim, Robert C. Divine will remain the Acting Deputy Director of USCIS, the position he has held since the appointment of the previous director, Eduardo Aguirre.
  • The House Passes Rep. Sensenbrenner’s Bill Restrictive Immigration Bill - No Temporary Worker Provisions Included
    Representative Sensenbrenner’s devastating bill, H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 239-182. The split was Republicans 203-12, Democrats 36-164 and Independents 0-1.
    Continued.... read full update here.
  • Representative Sensenbrenner Introduced Immigration Enforcement Legislation (December 6, 2005).
    House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.) introduced H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005. This legislation is dangerous and does not address the need to find a legal solution to dealing with the undocumented workers in the U.S. The legislation does not include a plan for the future flow of guest workers to enter the U.S. and it seeks to drive out 7-11 million undocumented immigrant workers. It will also create an Employment Eligibility Verification System (EEVS) that could severely limits workers' claims, including prohibiting class action lawsuits against the government.
    Continued.... read full update here.

  • Three Comprehensive Immigration Reform Proposals:
  1. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act of 2005 (S. 1033).
  1. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) Comprehensive Enforcement and Immigration Reform Act of 2005 (S. 1438).
  1. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) Comprehensive Legislative Package: national security (S. 1916); employment eligibility verification (S.1917); future guest workers (S. 1918); and earned legalization and backlog reduction (S. 1919).

Click here for a brief overview comparing the three pieces of legislation.


GT’s Recent Legislative and Lobbying Activities

  • GT’s Business Immigration Group supports the immigration reform proposal promoted by Senators McCain and Kennedy and is currently working closely with all relevant offices to reach a solution. Senator Spector, the chair of the Judiciary Committee has introduced a Chairman’s Mark-up and is seeking a compromise that would ensure that reform is addressed in a practical, realistic and fair manner.
  • Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC) is an intricate part of moving comprehensive immigration reform forward. The Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC) is a coalition of businesses, trade associations, and other organizations from across the industry spectrum concerned with the shortage of both skilled and lesser skilled ("essential worker") labor. EWIC stands ready to work with the Administration and Congress to push forward on important immigration reform issues.

EWIC supports policies that facilitate the employment of essential workers by U.S. companies and organizations. Current immigration law largely prevents the hiring of foreign essential workers. EWIC supports reform of US immigration policy to facilitate a sustainable workforce for the American economy while ensuring our national security and prosperity. Click here for more about this coalition.

  • Press Release - EWIC expresses its concern with immigration enforcement legislation introduced by Representative Sensenbrenner, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Click here for EWIC’s full statement.
  • Talking Points - EWIC is troubled by Rep. Sensenbrenner’s bill and has drafted talking points addressing how this legislation will hurt the business community. Click here to access the talking Points.

GT Business Immigration Group in the News

  • Voice of America News - Immigration Reform the Domestic Focus for President Bush (November 2005).

“Immigration lawyer Laura Reiff believes the guest worker program, as it stands, is impractical. ‘We don't think people will come out of the shadows and sign up, which defeats the national security purpose. We want to know who's here so we can use our limited enforcement mechanisms to go after the bad guys.’”

Click here to view the full article.

  • Legal Times, “Jobs to be Filled: Legislation Reform Should Include a Temporary Work Program for Laborers,” (October 2005).

“The U.S. immigration system is in disarray. The federal government has tried reorganizing immigration agencies under different titles and duties, passing piecemeal legislation, and creating amnesty with no thought to future immigration. These efforts haven’t worked. Worse, they have crippled immigration enforcement efforts, jeopardized the safety of citizens, and threatened our economic security. The stumbling point for these efforts has been how to deal realistically with the hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals who continue to come here every year, often by illegal means, to meet demands for lesser-skilled yet essential jobs.”

Click here to view the full article.

“Say [Dawn] Lurie and [Laura] Reiff, “The big issue now is the cap because companies are no longer able to bring in workers. […] The bottom line, they say, is that ‘when businesses need to hire people, they shouldn’t have these arbitrary limits. That’s the real philosophical battle, and we hope with comprehensive reform we’ll get over that hurdle.”

Click here to view the full article.

Other News and Updates

  • Rep. Kolbe’s Retirement.
    Rep. Kolbe's recent announcement that he will be retiring has many immigration advocates worried about the fate of immigration law reform. Rep. Kolbe, noted for co-sponsoring the McCain-Kolbe-Flake immigration reform proposal, advocated for legalization as a key component of comprehensive immigration reform. According to political analyst Stuart Rothenberg, "when Congress picks up the debate after 2006, [Rep.] Kolbe's retirement will be felt. It robs the Republicans of an intelligent voice ... someone who has been thinking about this issue and talking about it," he said.
  • 2006 AILA Lobby Day
    Lobby Day is AILA's opportunity to show up on Capitol Hill as a critical mass of hundreds of immigration policy experts. Last year AILA members visited more than 300 Congressional Offices to educate senators, representatives, congressional and committee staff about the real impact of immigration laws. At Lobby Day you'll learn how to talk about the specific ways that immigration laws affect your clients and your practice. You will be able to speak to your Members of Congress about the way that their votes on immigration legislation affect the quality of life of their constituents. Join with hundreds of AILA members to make an impression on US policy makers. A critical mass cannot be ignored. For complete details about AILA Lobby Day, please contact AILA's Advocacy Department at 202-216-2400. Registration Required, but free.

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