US Senate agrees on immigration legislation

Updated on May 18, 2007 10:03 AM IST
The US Senate agrees on legislation that deals with an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in America and also seeks to increase the H1B visa allocation.
HT Image
HT Image
PTI | BySridhar Krishnaswami, Washington

The US Senate has agreed on the broad contours of a comprehensive immigration reform legislation that not only deals with an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in America but also seeks to increase the H1B visa allocation from the current 65,000 to 115,000 annually.

While, the proposed legislation has provision for increasing the number of H1B visas by 50,000, a bi-partisan group of senators made it clear that the "last word on the subject had not been said."

"There are provisions for H1B. There have been others who wanted to see an expansion of that programme and there are some members who are concerned about the fact that some of the existing H1B have been more involved in shipping jobs overseas rather than creating jobs here," said Senator Edward Kennedy while announcing the bi-partisan agreement on the Immigration legislation.

"This is an evolving issue. I'm not sure we've reached our final position on it. It's being reviewed at the current time," he said.

"In the legislation itself, it goes from the 65,000 a day to 115,000" said Arizona Republican Jon Kyl.

The White House hailed the Senate accord on the Immigration reform with the President George W Bush hoping that the House of Representatives will come through with the "second" important step.

"As I reflect upon this important accomplishment, the first step toward a comprehensive immigration bill, it reminds me of how much the Americans appreciate the fact that we can work together, and when we work together that they see positive things," President Bush said.

"Immigration is a tough issue for a lot of us. The agreement reached today is one that'll help enforce our borders, but equally importantly, it'll treat people with respect" Bush said.

"I look forward to a good vote out of the Senate, as quickly as Leader Reid can get the bill moving. And then we move to working with the House of Representatives to take this first step and convert it into a successful second step. I really am anxious to sign a comprehensive immigration bill as soon as I possibly can," he said.

The immigration agreement in the Senate is only the first step in a long drawn process that has no guarantee of being in the final legislation.

The Senate first of all has to come up with a firm legislation and then approve it; the House of Representatives will then come up with their companion legislation and vote on it. The two versions will then have to be reconciled and the final text voted on again in the Senate and the House, a process that is not only highly complicated but also a lengthy one.

Presently, the issue of the 12 million illegals in the US is getting more importance than the H1B visa issue.

"There's broad consensus that 12 million undocumented workers who are here should be offered the chance to earn their legalisation. If this bill becomes law, it will provide an historic opportunity for millions of people right away," Senator Kennedy, one of the prime movers of the Immigration legislation said.

"On family immigration, as someone who comes from a large family, I couldn't be more committed to upholding our policy of supporting families that want to stay together. This proposal includes family backlog reduction in eight years for most of the 4 million in the family backlog, a backlog that currently stretches some 22 years," Kennedy said.

"About 20 per cent will be given to refugees who desperately need asylum in this country. And the remaining third will be based on a point system that factors in preferences for both high-skilled, low-skilled workers as well as extended family ties. The bill also includes temporary workers that will have strong labour protections," he said.

"This plan isn't perfect, but it's a strong bill and it is a worthy solution. Only a bipartisan bill will become law, and I believe we owe it to the American people to stop talking about immigration and start acting," the Democratic law maker said.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Albuquerque Police Deputy Chief of Investigations Cecily Barker holds a flyer with photos of a car wanted in connection with Muslim men murdered as Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham looks on in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal via AP)

    Suspect in killing of four Muslim men arrested in New Mexico

    Muhammad Syed, 51, an Albuquerque resident, was formally charged with two of the homicides: those of Aftab Hussein, 41, and Muhammed Afzaal Hussain, 27, killed on July 26 and August 1, respectively, but he is considered a suspect in all four murders, city Police Chief Harold Medina said at a news conference.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY/AFP)

    Kyiv urges travel ban on Russians as Moscow steps up assault in eastern Ukraine

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wants a one-year travel ban and the apparent expulsion of Russians living in the West so that they could live "in their own world until they change their philosophy." He complained that sanctions imposed so far on Russia to punish it for invading his country on February 24 were too weak.

  • Rising smoke can be seen from the beach at Saky after explosions were heard from the direction of a Russian military airbase near Novofedorivka, Crimea, Tuesday August 9, 2022. (UGC via AP)

    Ukraine is not taking responsibility for Crimea explosions: Prez Zelensky aide

    Mykhailo Podolyak, asked by the Dozhd online television channel whether Kyiv was taking responsibility, replied: "Of course not. What do we have to do with this?"

  • None of the Langya virus cases have so far resulted in fatality and most are mild, with patients suffering from flu-like symptoms. (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

    New ‘Langya’ virus hits China as 35 people found infected: How deadly is it?

    Currently, no vaccine or treatment for Langya virus is available, and the only solution is supportive care to manage complications pertaining to the zoonotic disease. A study published earlier revealed that the Langya virus was first spotted in human beings in 2019, with majority of the recent cases this year.

  • Bangladesh’s finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal and Chinese President Xi Jinping

    Bangladesh minister warns against China's BRI lending, cites Sri Lanka's example

    Bangladesh's finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has warned that developing countries must think twice about taking more loans through China's Belt and Road Initiative as global inflation and slowing growth add to the strains on indebted emerging markets. “Everybody is blaming China. China cannot disagree. It's their responsibility,” he added. The country, a participant in China's BRI, owes about $4 billion, or 6 per cent of its total foreign debt, to Beijing.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now