What You Need to Know About the Latest Immigration Bill in Congress

Immigration Bill
Immigration Bill

Immigration is one of the most contentious and complex issues in American politics. Recently, a bipartisan group of senators unveiled a new immigration bill that aims to address some of the challenges and opportunities facing the nation’s immigration system. The bill, called the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, was sent to Congress by President Joe Biden on his first day in office. It is the most comprehensive immigration reform proposal in decades, and it faces an uncertain future in a divided Congress. Here are some of the key aspects of the bill and what they mean for immigrants and the country.

What is the US Senate immigration bill?

The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 is a sweeping legislation that would create new pathways to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, update the family-based and employment-based immigration systems, enhance border security and humanitarian protections, and address the root causes of migration from Central America. The bill is based on the principles outlined by Biden during his presidential campaign, and it reflects his vision of restoring humanity and American values to the immigration system.

What is in the Senate border deal?

The Senate border deal is a bipartisan agreement that was reached by Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) as part of the larger immigration bill. The deal is designed to reduce the record-high number of migrant encounters at the southern border and tighten the asylum system. The deal would:

  • Raise the standard to get asylum, requiring migrants to show a higher likelihood of persecution or torture in their home countries.
  • Send away those who do not qualify for asylum and expedite the cases of those who do, aiming to process all claims within six months.
  • Give the president the authority to shut down the border to all migrants who do not have appointments to seek asylum if the daily average of crossings exceeds 4,000, or if it reaches 5,000 or 8,500 on a single day.
  • Provide additional resources and personnel to the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Health and Human Services to manage the border and the asylum system.
  • Increase cooperation and assistance to Mexico and Central American countries to improve their capacity to handle migration flows and address the factors that drive people to leave their homes.

What’s in the border deal?

The border deal is essentially the same as the Senate border deal, as it was incorporated into the House version of the immigration bill. The House passed the bill in November 2021, along with several other immigration provisions, such as:

  • Making about 7 million unauthorized immigrants eligible to apply for protection from deportation, work permits, and driver’s licenses.
  • Providing a path to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status holders, and essential workers.
  • Repealing the 3- and 10-year bars that prevent immigrants who have overstayed their visas or entered the country illegally from returning to the U.S. after leaving.
  • Increasing the number of visas available for family-based and diversity immigrants.

The bill now awaits action in the Senate, where it faces significant opposition from Republicans and some moderate Democrats. It is unclear if the bill will pass the Senate, or if it will be modified or split into smaller pieces.

Which penalty is imposed by the Immigration Reform and Control Act?

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 was a landmark law that made it illegal for employers to knowingly hire unauthorized immigrants and established financial and other penalties for companies that violated the law. The law also legalized most undocumented immigrants who had arrived in the country before 1982. The penalties imposed by the IRCA for employers who hire unauthorized immigrants are:

  • Civil fines ranging from $250 to $10,000 per unauthorized worker, depending on the number of violations and the size of the business.
  • Criminal penalties of up to six months in prison and/or a $3,000 fine per unauthorized worker for engaging in a pattern or practice of knowingly hiring or continuing to employ unauthorized immigrants.
  • Additional sanctions, such as debarment from government contracts, revocation of business licenses, or forfeiture of assets, for repeat or egregious offenders.

The IRCA also created a system for verifying the legal status of employees, known as the I-9 form. Employers are required to complete and retain the I-9 form for each employee they hire, and to inspect the documents that prove the employee’s identity and authorization to work. Employers who fail to comply with the I-9 requirements may also face civil or criminal penalties.

What was passed by Congress to limit immigration?

Congress has passed several laws over the years to limit immigration, either by restricting the number or categories of immigrants who can enter the country, or by imposing stricter requirements or conditions for admission. Some of the most notable laws that have limited immigration are:

  • The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which banned the immigration of Chinese laborers and was the first law to exclude a specific ethnic group from the country.
  • The Immigration Act of 1924, which established the national origins quota system that limited the annual number of immigrants from each country based on their proportion of the U.S. population in 1890. The law also excluded all immigrants from Asia, except for the Philippines, which was a U.S. territory at the time.
  • The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which consolidated and revised the existing immigration laws and maintained the national origins quota system, but also created a preference system for relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, skilled workers, and refugees.
  • The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which abolished the national origins quota system and replaced it with a new system that prioritized family reunification, employment skills, and diversity. The law also imposed the first numerical limits on immigration from the Western Hemisphere, and set a worldwide cap of 290,000 immigrants per year.
  • The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which, as mentioned above, made it illegal for employers to hire unauthorized immigrants and legalized most undocumented immigrants who had arrived before 1982. The law also increased the annual number of immigrants to 540,000 and created a new visa category for temporary agricultural workers.
  • The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which increased the enforcement and penalties for illegal immigration and made it harder for immigrants to obtain legal status or public benefits. The law also expanded the grounds of inadmissibility and deportability for immigrants, and created the 3- and 10-year bars for those who accrued unlawful presence in the country.
  • The REAL ID Act of 2005, which established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards, and required applicants to provide proof of legal status in the country. The law also restricted the ability of immigrants to seek asylum or judicial review of their removal orders.

Is immigration in the Bill of Rights?

The Bill of Rights is the name given to the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which were ratified in 1791. The Bill of Rights guarantees certain rights and freedoms to the people and limits the power of the federal government. The Bill of Rights does not explicitly mention immigration, but some of its provisions have been interpreted by the courts to apply to immigrants in certain situations. For example:

  • The First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and petition, applies to immigrants as well as citizens, and allows them to express their opinions, practice their faith, join organizations, and seek redress from the government.
  • The Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, applies to immigrants within the U.S., and requires the government to have a warrant or probable cause to search or arrest them, unless an exception applies.
  • The Fifth Amendment, which guarantees due process of law and protects against self-incrimination, applies to immigrants in criminal and civil proceedings, and requires the government to provide them with notice and a hearing before depriving them of life, liberty, or property, and to respect their right to remain silent.
  • The Sixth Amendment, which guarantees the right to a speedy and public trial, the right to counsel, the right to confront witnesses, and the right to a jury, applies to immigrants who are charged with a crime, and ensures that they have a fair and impartial trial.
  • The Eighth Amendment, which prohibits excessive bail, fines, and cruel and unusual punishments, applies to immigrants who are detained or punished by the government, and prevents the government from imposing excessive or arbitrary measures on them.
  • The Ninth Amendment, which states that the enumeration of certain rights in the Constitution does not deny or disparage other rights retained by the people, applies to immigrants as well as citizens, and suggests that they may have other rights that are not explicitly listed in the Constitution, such as the right to privacy or the right to travel.
  • The Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868, is not part of the Bill of Rights, but it is relevant to immigration because it grants citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the U.S., and guarantees equal protection of the laws to all persons within the U.S. The Fourteenth Amendment also incorporates most of the Bill of Rights and makes them applicable to the states as well as the federal government.

What is the 10 year law for immigration?

The 10 year law for immigration, also known as the 10 year bar, is a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act that makes immigrants who have been unlawfully present in the U.S. for more than one year ineligible to return to the country for 10 years, unless they obtain a waiver of inadmissibility. Unlawful presence is the period of time when an immigrant is in the U.S. without being admitted or paroled, or without a valid visa or status. The 10 year bar applies to immigrants who depart or are removed from the U.S. after

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