March 17, 2006
The Senate Judiciary Committee Update
The Senate Judiciary Committee, lead by Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA),
began mark-up on comprehensive immigration reform on Thursday, March 2,
2006. Due to the numerous amendments that need to be addressed, and with
many provisions still being debated, the Congressional staff will continue
to work towards workable and acceptable solutions throughout next week.
Senator Frist (R-TN) introduced his own bill today which focuses more on
enforcement rather than reform. It also does not include many of the critical
provisions that are in the Specter bill. The process of debating amendments
is very arduous and it is unlikely that all the amendments will be addressed
before the March 27th deadline.
The following are some notable amendments regarding Border Enforcement:
- Allow broader interagency consultation in producing the report in
section 113 of the bill on improving the exchange of information on North
- Require the Secretary of Homeland Security to design and carry out
a national border security exercise that involves officials from Federal,
State, territorial, local, tribal, and international governments and representatives
from the private sector.
- Require the construction of a 2-layered fence and other security improvements
along the U.S. border from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.
- Strike section 124 of the Chairman’s Mark, which would require DHS
to submit a timeline for equipping all land borders with the US-VISIT
entry/exit system, developing and deploying the exit component of the
US-VISIT system at all land borders, and making all border screening systems
operated by the Department interoperable.
- Amend section 112 of the Chairman’s Mark to add several new requirements
to the “national strategy for border security” that section 112 would
require the Secretary to develop. The new requirements seek to protect
the rights of vulnerable populations as well as protect the civil rights
of persons encountered along the U.S. border.
The following are some notable amendments regarding Interior Enforcement:
- Establish a grant program for state and local law enforcement agencies
entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Federal government,
a portion of which would be specifically dedicated to interior enforcement
- Provide explicit legal authority to state and local police officers
to enforce federal civil immigration laws. The amendment, further, would
encourage police participation by awarding them assets seized from undocumented
immigrants, permitting them to seek funds from the federal government
for failure to pick up undocumented immigrants and granting them limited
immunity from lawsuits. In addition, the amendment would mandate the entry
of civil immigration information into the National Crime Information Center
(NCIC) database, which is a database of wanted persons maintained by the
Federal Bureau of Information for local law enforcement use. It also would
increase penalties for immigration status violations.
The following is a notable amendment regarding Unlawful Employment of
- Facilitate the sharing of immigration and social security information
between the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.
The following is a notable amendment regarding Nonimmigrant and Immigrant
- Require a study on licensing private employment agencies to issue
guest worker visas.
Greenberg Traurig is intimately involved with the mark-up and continues
to work diligently with key Committee members on real comprehensive immigration
reform. To this end GT’s Business Immigration Group continues to firmly
support a temporary worker program, some form of an earned adjustment program,
and a fair and practical employment eligibility verification system as part
of comprehensive legislation to be introduced by the Senate.
It is important to contact Senators on the Judiciary Committee and commend
them on their work on comprehensive immigration reform thus far and urge
them to go to Senator Frist to request additional time to address all the
issues involved. The deadline is fast approaching and there are still many
issues left unresolved. Below are telephone number of the Senators that
on the committee.
For more information on the Mark and the business community's
concerns regarding this legislation, please