As the Senate begins debate this week on the proposed immigration reform bill, dozens of Senators have filed amendments to the legislation. Among the proposals to keep an eye on are:
- Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) has indicated that he is going to offer an amendment that would require several border security triggers, including 90 percent apprehension rate of illegal crossings, to be met before undocumented immigrants could receive a green card. This amendment would also require a biometric exit system and a nationwide electronic verification system to ensure that employers are not hiring workers who are in the country illegally. Democrats have criticized the provisions in this amendment as being “logistically unfeasible hurdles that could delay indefinitely a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has called the amendment a “poison pill.”
- Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) intends to offer an amendment that would require Congress to write and enforce a border security plan rather than delegating the responsibility to the Department of Homeland Security. He has stated that his amendment will also require Congress to vote every year on border security for the first five years after the legislation takes effect. “If Congress votes that the border is not secure, elements of immigration reform will cease to go forward and visa programs will be slowed,” he said.
- Senator Jeff Session (R-AL) intends to reoffer two amendments that would block some immigrants from receiving certain tax credits. The first would require families to provide a valid Social Security number for each qualifying child, as well as for the parent, in order to receive a child tax credit. The second would deny the earned income tax credit to immigrants while they had temporary status. Both of these amendments were offered in Committee and failed on party-line votes.
- Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is expected to offer an amendment that would require immigrants to prove they have paid back taxes and are staying current with them as they proceed toward legal status. Senator Hatch has stated that he also plans to introduce an amendment that would create a five-year ban for immigrants who are legal permanent residents before they can receive Affordable Care Act subsidies.
- Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is considering offering two amendments that would restrict access to guns for undocumented immigrants. One proposal would close a loophole that allows certain immigrants, including those who entered the country through the Visa Waiver Program, to buy firearms. The other would require the Attorney General to alert the Secretary of Homeland Security when an unauthorized immigrant or visitor on a temporary visa attempts to buy a gun.
- Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has filed an amendment that would add protections for same-sex couples. This amendment would allow United States citizens who are in state-recognized marriages to apply for a green card on behalf of their same-sex partners.
- Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) are considering offering an amendment in which Congress would take over from the Department of Homeland Security the responsibility for drafting a border security plan, which the Department would then carry out.
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