IMMIGRATION CLIENT ALERT: Comprehensive Immigration Reform


This week, the promised launch of a new political effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. Congress has taken off. Yesterday, eight Senators unveiled their outline of a bipartisan plan for comprehensive immigration reform. Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer (NY), Robert Menendez (NJ), Richard Durbin (IL) and Michael Bennett (CO) joined by Republican Senators John McCain (AZ), Lindsay Graham (SC), Jeff Flake (AZ) and Marco Rubio (FL), presented a plan based on four major principles:

  1. Creating a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. that includes a probationary period and is contingent upon securing the border and combating visa overstays;
  2. Reforming the legal immigration system to meet employment and family needs with focus on eliminating backlogs and awarding green cards to those receiving graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics from U.S. universities;
  3. Implementing an effective employment verification system to prevent fraud and the hiring of unauthorized workers; and
  4. Establishing an improved process for admitting future employment-based immigrants, with emphasis on lasting solutions for hiring low-skilled and agricultural workers. (Click here to access the Republican and Democratic Senate principles.)

Today, the President announced his own plan for what the White House has termed “commonsense” immigration reform.

  1. Continuing to strengthen the border security through enhanced law enforcement tools, technology and infrastructure to protect communities, remove criminals and apprehend and prosecute national security threats;
  2. Cracking down on employers hiring undocumented workers with an expanded employment verification system and by increasing fines on employers who continue to hire undocumented immigrants;
  3. Earned citizenship through multiple background checks, paying taxes and a penalty, and learning English be added at the end of the citizenship application line, and providing benefits to higher education students and military volunteers; and
  4. Streamlining legal immigration through provisions to unify families of U.S. citizens and providing visas to entrepreneurial investors and math and science graduate students. (Click here to link to the President’s principles.)

While bipartisan negotiations and drafting are underway in both chambers, it remains to be seen whether sufficient agreement can be reached to draw the support of enough Members for a bill to become law. Either way, attorneys or their clients should expect to see legislation introduced and hearings held in the coming months. Late today Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy announced a full committee hearing on immigration reform on Wednesday, February 13. Also today, a bipartisan group of Senators led by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the "Immigration Innovation Act of 2013" to boost high-tech innovations through reforms to the H1-B visa. Already off to a fast start for 2013, the immigration reform process may continue to speed ahead until the August recess this summer.

Who will be impacted by a comprehensive immigration reform law?

All U.S. employers, sectors industries will be affected, including the following:

  • Agricultural sector, including food producers, manufactures and retail sellers;
  • Border security and technology producers and manufacturers;
  • Identification security and technology producers;
  • Software, cloud and database producers with data systems needed for govt. implementation;
  • Port and airport authorities;
  • Travel industry companies, including airlines, hotels and other travel services;
  • Construction, transportation, housing and other industries involving mass construction which use substantial immigrant and/or temporary labor;
  • Universities and other high education related companies;
  • States and municipalities, for issues of labor workforce and immigrant access to education;
  • Countries seeking Visa Waiver Program participation;
  • All high technology companies seeking or needing high-skilled labor from other countries;
  • EB-5 investor visa regional centers and underlying funds and projects;
  • Large multinational corporations with intra-company executive and labor transfers;
  • Seasonal industries;
  • Organizations supporting immigration policies for various nationalities and immigrant groups – especially immigrants from Latin America, Asia and Europe; and
  • Organizations supporting same –sex immigration policies.

What can Patton Boggs can do to protect your company, organization or country’s interests?

Several decades in the making, this immigration bill will not only be comprehensive but also be extremely detailed, covering every area of immigration law. Patton Boggs provides a team of lawyers and advocates that offer the required sophisticated knowledge in immigration law and experience in the politics of immigration policy and reform, both on Capitol Hill and in the Administration. To ensure that your company, organization or government is not harmed by the final law, Patton Boggs will keep you informed of the breadth of issues on the horizon, prepare supportive or opposing responses, and advocate to convince key Senators, Representatives and the Administration of your concerns and positions immediately.

Patton Boggs can provide critical access to the key Senators and Members who are leading this effort. We have close contacts from, longstanding personal relationships with these leaders and other legislators in leadership who will play pivotal roles in moving any immigration reform legislation. Our policy team includes former Senators, seasoned lobbyists, and attorneys who recently served on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, including a former immigration policy counsel on one of these committees. All of our political know-how will be backed up by the nuanced expertise in immigration law provided by our experienced immigration practice attorneys.

Immigration law and policy is an expansive and detail-driven field and this effort will be substantial and sweeping due to the political convergence that has occurred between the political parties. Patton Boggs can protect and promote your interests by providing the intricate immigration law knowledge and skills, plus the unparalleled access to the Senators, Members and other officials who control the pen and are drafting this landmark legislation.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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