The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act was introduced by a bipartisan group of eight Senators. The Senate “Gang of 8” includes Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), John McCain (R-AZ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Marco Rubio (R-FL). The bill includes a 13-year pathway to citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented individuals. It increases the number of visas for high-skilled workers, creates a new “W-visa” category for low-skilled workers and calls for enhanced border security. The bill requires employers to use an improved version of the electronic system, E-Verify, to determine employees’ legal status. The E-verify portion of the law would be phased in according to the number of employees, culminating in coverage of all employers within four years.
The new W-visa program would begin in 2015 and be capped at 20,000 workers. The cap would rise to 75,000 by 2019. Workers could stay for three years with their families. They would be able to apply to renew their visas. There is a change to family visas. Family visas would be available for parents, children and spouses of citizens and permanent legal residents. Eighteen months after enactment of the law, siblings and adult children would no longer be included in that category. Two days after the bill was introduced, despite the fact that it is over 800 pages long and is still being analyzed, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing and has scheduled a second hearing on the bill for April 22.