Amendment to limit Green Cards to 1.2 million per year defeated

Senate Judiciary committee votes against raising cap too high on work visas.

American Bazaar Staff

WASHINGTON, DC:  An amendment to cap Green Cards at 1.2 million per year for immigrants and yet another amendment to increase the quota of work visas for skilled immigrants to a high limit failed to muster enough votes in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which continued its deliberations on the Gang of Eight Immigration reform bill, but an amendment to fix the student visa system with more stringent controls and data collection and sharing got through.

The 18-member Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved an amendment proposed by top Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa to address student visa security issues highlighted in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, reported NBC News.

That measure, which requires that student visa information be shared in real-time with Border Patrol officers at the nation’s major ports of entry, is designed to repair the communication error that led to a friend of bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev entering the United States despite the expiration of his student visa, said NBC.

However, the committee rejected an amendment proposed by Sen. Jeff Sessions, a leading opponent of the bill, that would have required that visa holders be verified using biometric screening – like fingerprints or eye scans – when exiting the country. Although most agreed that it was imperative to add more controls to see who is getting in and out of the country, ultimately the price tag of billions of new dollars to be spent on the biometric system proved to be the decisive factor.

Sessions, who has proposed a total of 49 changes to the bill, failed to win support from other committee Republicans for a proposal that would have capped the number of legal immigrants receiving green cards at 1.2 million per year. That measure failed, with all others on the 18-member panel voting against it, said NBC.

An amendment that would have dramatically increased caps on visas available for high-skilled foreign workers, also got grounded. Four of the gang of Eight Senators, who co-authored the bill, and are on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that the high maximum of 300,000 to 325,000 visas could hurt American workers seeking the same jobs. However, it was not clear as to what cap they intend to raise it to.

NPR reported that South Carolina Republican Lindsay Graham, who’s a member of the Gang of Eight, assured colleagues that before any immigrant labor is brought in, the jobs they’d be filling would first be posted for job seekers here.

“That’s to ensure that Americans don’t lose their job because of cheap labor. But here’s the dilemma. Once the company advertises and they can’t find a native-born worker, it’s better to bring people into our country that can add value to our businesses than that business have to close or leave,” Graham said at the deliberations.

Despite the positive news coming of the steady progress of the Senate Judiciary Committee who are going to deliberate on all 300 or so amendments that have been added to the original proposals, there are indications that even if the bill makes it past the Senate, it faces a rocky road in the Republican-controlled House where the immigration issue is a much more thorny subject for bipartisan approval.

CNN reported that prominent House conservative Rep. Steve King of Iowa said today that the immigration reform bill under consideration in the Senate is part of an ongoing plot to build a massive new Democratic voting bloc.

America’s growing Hispanic vote is “a huge boon for Democrats. They have known that for a long time,” said King. Their message has been that “we are going to recruit all you folks. That we are going to give amnesty to (you) to become Democrats.”

Democratic leaders “are in the process of seeking to establish another monolithic voting bloc,” he said, reported CNN. Republicans backing the bipartisan Senate bill “completely ignore that fact.”

King made his remarks at a Capitol Hill press conference with several other House conservatives taking aim at the “Gang of Eight” legislation drafted by four Senate Democrats and four Senate Republicans.

Another House conservative at the press conference with King, Louisiana GOP Rep. John Fleming, noted the length of the proposal by the “Gang of Eight,” 844 pages

“When in recent years have we passed such a large bill and had a good outcome?” Fleming asked, reported CNN. “I’ll give you Obamacare and Dodd-Frank (financial reform) as good examples of that. I really think we need to tear this thing up and start from the beginning.”

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