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July 20, 2005

DC Hill Update and ALERT

The Senate has started floor debate on the DHS Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2360) and is expected to focus on the bill for this entire week. We were told today that several immigration amendments likely will be ruled in order for floor consideration and several have been filed. The amendments were filed last night and were recently made available. We do not yet know what amendments will ultimately be brought to the floor for a vote.

While there is still on-going negotiations, we urge you to contact your Senators using the Congressional switchboard number (202-224-3121) and urge them to oppose the following amendments:

1. S.A. 1163: This amendment from Senators Feinstein (D-CA) and Sessions (R-AL) seeks to expand the types of passport and document related offenses that constitute an “aggravated felony.” For example, it makes conviction for use of any false document to gain entry into the United States an aggravated felony, regardless of whether any prison sentence is imposed. Perhaps more broadly, the amendment would make convictions (state or federal) for fraudulent use of documents to establish immigration status or employment authorization aggravated felonies. Given the incredibly harsh consequences of the aggravated felony classification (including mandatory detention and removal, and disqualification for any type of relief), the pernicious effect of this amendment would be to render true refugees ineligible for asylum or other protection if the government prosecutes them for false statements or use of a fraudulent document. It also would expose potentially millions of undocumented workers to aggravated felony liability if they are prosecuted for using false social security cards or EADs

2. S.A. 1204: This amendment filed by Senators Cornyn (R-TX) and Kyl (R-AZ) includes enforcement measures that would, among other things, require the expansion of expedited removal to all border areas; set minimum bond amounts ($5,000) for aliens from noncontiguous countries; require minimum deny admissions to nationals of a country whose government has denied or unreasoable delayed accepting return of an alien; and other provisions. We oppose consideration of this menu of enforcement proposals absent concomitant reform of our immigration laws and believe many are wrong-headed.

3. S.A. 1139: This amendment filed by Senators Sessions (R-AL) and Hatch (R-UT) would require a broad array of immigration status information to be entered into the National Crime Information Center database, including: individuals with final removal orders, individuals who have executed voluntary departure agreements, individuals who have overstayed their authorized period of status, and individuals whose visas have been revoked. This information must be entered regardless of whether the individual received notice of the order or has already been removed. These mandates ignore the fact that most of the violations in question are civil in nature and inappropriate for inclusion in a national law enforcement database. Given the lack of accuracy controls over information put in this database (DOJ recently exempted such data from the Privacy Act's accuracy requirements) and the numerous quasi-statuses (pending extensions, changes, etc.), these mandates are sure to lead to many mistakes and serious abuses.

To counter these measures, our Hill supporters have filed several pro-immigration amendments. When you contact your Senators, please urge them to support these measures if they are offered. Our supporters intend to proceed with these measures if the negative amendments highlighted above are brought to the floor. These amendments include the McCain/Kennedy Secure America comprehensive immigration reform bill, the bipartisan AgJobs bill, and AgJobs with some of the enforcement measures included in the Secure America Act .

Judith Golub
Senior Director, Advocacy & Public Affairs
American Immigration Lawyers Association
(202) 216-2403

Posted by VisaLawyer at July 20, 2005 02:12 PM


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