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S.744 Amendments Reveal Signs of Progress on Immigration Reform

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Immigration Reform 2013 Alternatives to Detention jpegThank you for all the calls you’ve made and the actions you’ve taken to support fair and humane immigration reform!  Yesterday was action-packed, and because of your help, we can celebrate of number of positive developments.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which is marking up the immigration reform bill, S.744, on Monday considered dozens of amendments affecting individuals fleeing persecution (for a more detailed look at these and other amendments, visit the LIRS page on comprehensive immigration reform).  They also took up several proposals relating to the enforcement of immigration laws, including detention and access to justice for migrants and refugees. In the evening, the committee began debating the pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Here’s a brief recap of developments relating to the amendments LIRS was closely monitoring yesterday:

Amendments related to unaccompanied children, refugees, and asylum:

  • Coons 8 passed, grants work authorization to asylum applicants six months after they file an application.
  • Hirono 22 passed, protects children apprehended by immigration agents at the border
  • Harmful amendments that would have restricted the ability of those fleeing persecution to find safety in the United States were defeated.  These included Grassley 27 and 52.
  • One setback was that Graham 1 passed, which would require termination of asylee or refugee status if return to the country of persecution is undertaken without good cause.  The version that was adopted was a slightly improved version of the original amendment.

Amendments related to detention and due process amendments:

  • Franken 7 passed unanimously, protects children affected by immigration enforcement and safeguards parental rights of migrants in detention.
  • Feinstein 5 passed, mandates live training of immigration officers at the border regarding unaccompanied migrant children.
  • Blumenthal 2 passed, protects persons in immigration detention who are held in solitary confinement.
  • Blumenthal 8  passed, limits immigration enforcement at sensitive community locations like schools and churches.
  • Coons 6 passed, increased accountability and transparency by tracking and reporting of data relating to persons held in detention.
  • Harmful amendments that would limit release on bond and increase detention of immigrants failed.  These included Grassley 47 and Sessions 12.

Other notable amendments: Klobuchar 2 passed, increasing availability of U visas; Coons 5 passed, creating more access to immigration records for those in deportation proceedings; Hirono 21 passed, providing some financial aid and counseling for DREAMers; Hirono 12 passed, allowing applicants for the pathway to citizenship to pay in installments.

Thank you again for everything you’re doing to ensure the passage of fair and compassionate immigration reform. Together, we’re moving towards a historic moment in American history!

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