Wednesday, April 17, 2013

CIR Watch 2013, Senate Gang of Eight Bill introduced

The "Gang of Eight" in the Senate has now filed their comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill.  It begins like this:

"To provide for comprehensive immigration reform and for
other purposes.
1 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa-
2 tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
4 (a) SHORT TITLE.—This Act may be cited as the
5 ‘‘Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigra-
6 tion Modernization Act’’.
7 (b) TABLE OF CONTENTS.—The table of contents for
8 this Act is as follows:
Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
Sec. 2. Statement of congressional findings.
Sec. 3. Effective date triggers.
Sec. 4. Southern Border Security Commission.
Sec. 5. Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy and Southern Border Fencing Strategy.
Sec. 6. Comprehensive Immigration Reform Trust Fund.
Sec. 7. Reference to the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Sec. 8. Definitions.

and goes on for 844 pages.

I am going to be reading it in chunks and posting a summary and perhaps some thoughts over the next few weeks.  I think a lot of what I see in the bill so far based on the table of contents makes a lot of sense.  I am, however, not openly advocating for or against the bill.  Given my occupation, I don't feel comfortable doing so. On the other hand, given my occupation, I clearly have a lot of interest in the outcome; it will affect my job greatly.  And so since I will be following everything closely, I might as well be a resource for (hopefully accurate and helpful) information about the bill (as opposed to uninformed rhetoric from both ends of the political spectrum, which is all the debate on these issues usually entails).

Tonight I made it through the initial sections and most of Title 1.  Section 2 of the bill is worth quoting in it's entirety:

2 Congress makes the following findings:
3 (1) The passage of this Act recognizes that the
4 primary tenets of its success depend on securing the
1 sovereignty of the United States of America and es-
2 tablishing a coherent and just system for integrating
3 those who seek to join American society.
4 (2) We have a right, and duty, to maintain and
5 secure our borders, and to keep our country safe and
6 prosperous. As a nation founded, built and sustained
7 by immigrants we also have a responsibility to har-
8 ness the power of that tradition in a balanced way
9 that secures a more prosperous future for America.
10 (3) We have always welcomed newcomers to the
11 United States and will continue to do so. But in
12 order to qualify for the honor and privilege of even-
13 tual citizenship, our laws must be followed. The
14 world depends on America to be strong — economi-
15 cally, militarily and ethically. The establishment of a
16 stable, just and efficient immigration system only
17 supports those goals. As a nation, we have the right
18 and responsibility to make our borders safe, to es-
19 tablish clear and just rules for seeking citizenship, to
20 control the flow of legal immigration, and to elimi-
21 nate illegal immigration, which in some cases has be-
22 come a threat to our national security.
23 (4) All parts of this Act are premised on the
24 right and need of the United States to achieve these
1 goals, and to protect its borders and maintain its
2 sovereignty."

Section 3 sets requirements for measuring the effectiveness of border security measures, and ties the beginning of the registration of aliens in the newly created provisional status (more on this later in the bill) to the beginning of this process.

Skipping down to Section 6, that section creates a trust fund to pay for the measures required by the bill.  Various new immigration fees (fees paid by applicants for immigration benefits) and portions of existing fees are then designated to go into this fund.

Title 1 then goes on to add numerous additional resources for border security.  Resources are also provided to triple the number of immigration prosecutions in the border region.  The title also has provisions for a review of the use of force by border enforcement agents, and requires extensive new training for border enforcement agents.

All of this is basically a predicate for all of the quite extensive changes to the immigration system contained in the remainder of the bill.  I'll get in to those in subsequent posts.

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