Top Ten Worst Amendments to the 'Gang of Eight' Amnesty Bill
While Gang of Eight Senators enjoy their last vacation before their amnesty bill (S. 744) hits the Senate floor, the rest of America is digesting yet another version of the legislation. In fact, the Senate Judiciary Committee added over 200 pages worth of amendments to the bill during its marathon markup of the legislation this month, leaving it to total more than 1,000 pages. Although most of the amendments the Committee adopted are damaging to public safety, border security, and jobs for American workers, the “mainstream media” refuses to report on them. To help inform the public, FAIR put together this Top 10 list of the worst amendments to the Gang of Eight bill:1. BLUMENTHAL #8This amendment severely limits enforcement of federal immigration laws by prohibiting enforcement actions—including arrests, surveillance, searches, or interviews—by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents or Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in “sensitive locations.” While the amendment makes an exception for “exigent circumstances” and instances where prior approval for specific targeted enforcement is obtained from designated officials, it no doubt will have a severe chilling effect on enforcement efforts. Sensitive locations are broadly defined by the amendment to include hospitals and health clinics; public and private schools of all educational levels including vocational and trade schools; organizations assisting children, pregnant women, victims of crime or abuse, or individuals with mental or physical disabilities; churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship; and any other location the DHS Secretary determines to be “sensitive.” This broad grant of discretion to the DHS Secretary, though comporting with the Gang of Eight’s overall acquiescence of Congressional authority over immigration to the Obama Administration, is ripe for abuse by an executive branch unwilling to enforce current law.2. HATCH #10This amendment does the impossible: makes the bill’s H-1B provisions even worse for U.S. workers. To be sure, Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) amendment—as amended per his backroom deal with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)—alters the bill in the following negative ways:
- Changes the formula that determines how many H-1B workers are admitted annually in order to admit H-1B workers at a faster pace. Originally, S.744 increased the cap from 65,000 to a range of 110,000 — 180,000, with the specific number calculated through a formula based on the number of petitions filed during the previous year and certain unemployment rates. The Hatch amendment changed the range of H-1B workers that may be admitted each year to 115,000 — 180,000, with the specific number determined by how quickly the cap is reached during the year and an increase contingent on certain unemployment data.
- Allows DHS to grant work authorization to spouses of H-1B workers regardless of whether the worker’s home country offers reciprocal treatment. Originally, S.744 allowed DHS to grant work authorization to spouses only if the sending country permitted reciprocal treatment.
- Eliminates the requirement placed on all H-1B employers in S.744 that they attest that they have not and will not displace U.S. workers beginning 90 days before to 90 days after the visa petition is filed. Instead, the Hatch Amendment provides that only “H-1B skilled worker dependent employers” and “H-1B dependent employers” must attest that they have not displaced U.S. workers within 90 days before and after, or 180 days before and after, respectively.
- Eliminates the requirement placed on all H-1B employers in S.744 that they attest they have offered the job to any U.S. workers who applies and is equally or better qualified. Instead, the Hatch Amendment provides that only H-1B dependent employers must satisfy this requirement.
- Allows non H-1B dependent employers to outsource their H-1B workers for a $500 fee per worker. It also allows certain H-1B dependent employers that are universities, nonprofit research organizations, or health care businesses to outsource their H-1B workers for a $500 fee per worker.
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