On July 9, the Senate, by a vote of 84 to 6, passed a DHS funding bill which includes a variety of immigration enforcement and benefits measures. The measure now goes to a House-Senate Conference Committee which must reconcile this bill with a funding measure previously passed by the House of Representatives which contains none of the immigration amendments added by the Senate.
Immigration Provisions: The Senate also adopted two amendments. The first would eliminate the “widow’s penalty”. This would allow foreign-born widows and orphans to remain eligible for permanent residence even when the U.S. citizen spouse/parent dies before they achieve such status. The second would extend the “Conrad 30” J waiver program for physicians and the religious worker program for non-ministers until September 30, 2012. Currently, both programs are due to expire on September 30, 2009.
The Senate bill includes an amendment by Senator Patrick Leahy which would make the EB-5 Regional Center Investor program permanent. Currently, the program is due to expire on September 30, 2009.
The Senate adopted an amendment to provide that the DHS must complete 700 miles of actual fencing along the U.S.- Mexican border by the end of fiscal year 2010. Despite being funded for several years, the DHS has only managed to erect a fraction of this amount.
The bill also includes an amendment, which would effectively make the “E-Verify” program permanent for federal contractors. Not only would “E-Verify” be used to check the immigration status of new hires, it would also apply to existing employees who are assigned to work under a federal contract. The House bill would extend the “E-Verify” program, but only for a period two years.
We welcome the Amendments and hope that it will benefit the society at large.