Side-By-Side Comparison of Senate S.744 and House Immigration Bills

It’s irrefragable that Congress has hit a wall when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform.  Back in April, the Senate introduced its vision for immigration reform by introducing the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S.744).  In spite of intense speculation, the Senate managed to pass the bill, 68 in favor (32 opposed) on June 27, 2013.  Many practitioners cheered.  Others waited for the axe to fall….

the-world-national-flags_2Fast forward nearly three months and the momentum for comprehensive immigration reform have halted with the House.  House Republicans are insistent that a comprehensive bill is not the appropriate strategy, but rather, bite-size chunks of law instead that originate from the House.  [Can anything save the factious House from itself?]

It seems that even the news outlets are tired of reporting on immigration reform when there has been so little development.  Nevertheless, the Migration Policy Institute compiled and released an intensive 27-page summary last month comparing the Senate’s CIR bill (S.744) to the five House bills that affect immigration  (see my detail on each bill below).  The MPI’s summary is nothing short of AWESOME, which is segmented into the following categories below:

Topic Senate House
Border Security S.744 Border Security Results Act & SAFE Act
Immigrant Visa Reform/Integration Provisions S.744 SKILLS Visa Act
Interior Enforcement S.744 Legal Workforce Act & SAFE Act
Nonimmigrant Visa Reform Programs S.744 AG Act & SKILLS Visa Act

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BORDER SECURITY RESULTS ACT OF 2013 (H.R. 1417)

The goal of the Border Security Results Act of 2013 is to ensure DHS develops a national strategy for ensuring border security and safety.  This includes tactical goals and processes that will be rolled out during various timelines at 60, 90, 120, and 180 days, and 1-year, 2-year and 5-year post-enactment of the Act. The bill also provides for target metrics in between ports (of entry), at the ports of entry, and at maritime borders.

The Border Security Results Act was introduced in the House on April 8, 2013; reviewed by a Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security on April 24, 2013; and last reviewed by the Committee on Homeland Security on May 15, 2013.

STRENGTHEN AND FORTIFY ENFORCEMENT ACT (“SAFE ACT”) (H.R. 2278)

As indicated in a press release, the SAFE Act serves to strengthen “interior enforcement of our immigration laws by granting states and localities the authority to enforce federal immigration laws.”  In essence, the SAFE Act deputizes local law enforcement so it can enforce federal immigration laws.

It was introduced in the House on June 6, 2013; reviewed by multiple house subcommittees; referred to Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry on June 25, 2013.

SUPPLYING KNOWLEDGE BASED IMMIGRANTS AND LIFTING LEVELS OF STEM VISAS ACT (“SKILLS VISA ACT”) (H.R. 2131)

The SKILLS Visa Act would amend the current immigration quotas for employment-based immigration.  It would allocate a new category of visas (EB-6 and EB-7) dedicated to doctoral and master’s degree graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields of study (or other medical, dental, veterinary, osteopathic programs for EB-6 category).  New EB-8 visas would be allocated for venture-backed entrepreneurs.

The bill would provide for mechanisms in which the new visas would be allotted and tabulated from year to year.

Currently, the bill has only been introduced in the House on May 23, 2013.

LEGAL WORKFORCE ACT (H.R. 1772)

Introduced in the House on April 26, 2013, the Legal Workforce Act would mandate all employers in the U.S. enroll and use the E-Verify System to verify the work eligibility of all its new employees.   It would eliminate the paper-based Form I-9 process.  Though not required, it would authorize employers to reverify its entire, existing workforce using the E-Verify system.

The bill provides for various process steps for the E-Verify system.

AGRICULTURAL GUEST WORKER ACT (“AG ACT”) (H.R. 1773)

The Ag Act was introduced in the House on April 26, 2013.  The Act would involve the Departments of Agriculture, Homeland Security and State for agricultural workers entering the U.S. to work on H-2C visa for temporary or seasonal jobs, including dairy, food-processing and non-seasonal agricultural work.

The provisions of the bill include terms and conditions for administering and qualifying for the H-2C program.