Refugees currently undergo the most rigorous security screening process of anyone who comes to the United States.
AILA Doc No. 13052145 | Dated May 21, 2013
On 5/21/13 the Senate Judiciary Committee held Day Five of the markup on S. 744. By the end of the evening (after pizza had been ordered for Senators on the committee), the Committee successfully voted the final bill as amended to the floor of the Senate on a 13-5 vote. The ten Democrats on the committee were joined by the two Republicans from the "Gang of Eight" (Senators Graham (SC) and Flake (AZ)), and Republican Senator Orrin Hatch (UT). The legislation survived the entire markup process with most of its major provisions in place as the four Senators representing the "Gang of Eight" on the committee stuck to their commitment to resist any changes to the core provisions of the bill.
Today the committee considered 31 amendments, 16 of which passed (the majority on voice votes). Many of the most controversial amendments were debated today (none of which passed) including: denying citizenship to anyone who had ever been in the country illegally (Cruz 3), providing immigration benefits to same sex couples (Leahy 7), making siblings and adult sons/daughters over the age of 31 eligible in the family category (Hirono 10), and making RPI recipients ineligible for tax benefits such as the EITC and CTC (Sessions 30).Link to amendments in related resources
AILA has compiled a chart listed all the amendments offered during the 4th day of mark-up, the statement of purpose and the result of the vote in committee. In addition, the full text of all amendments can be found under "Related Resources" to the right.
10:43 am Sen. Leahy: No opening statement.
Sen. Grassley: I have several questions, but am only going to ask one on health care. I think the bill rightly prohibits legalized individuals from accessing health credits to buy health care, but along with it, comes with the notion that employers can skirt penalties if they don't cover these individuals. How would the bill ensure that those who are legalized don't get public benefits, but don't disincentivize employers to displace or give secondary preference to Americans
Sen. Durbin: Under this bill, there is an ambiguity. These RPU workers will not be entitled to the subsidy to the health reform act. It's my understanding that they can purchase it without subsidy. You've asked the right question, what impact does that have on their employer? I will concede that this is an issue that is not totally resolved.
Sen. Grassley: When you say it's unresolved at this point, is that something you're continuing to work on it and will be resolved before the bill is complete or that can't be even be handled.
Sen. Durbin: I understand it's a finance committee jurisdiction issue.
Sen. Leahy: Sen. Grassley and I talked yesterday, and we're going to keep going as there is a possibility that we can finish today.
Amendment Blumenthal 15 is up for consideration. The amendment would move the physical presence date to April 17, 2013.
Sen. Blumenthal: I'm not going to ask for a vote on it. The date in the bill now, December 31, 2011, is now an arbitrary cutoff. But the effect is that 400,000 will be barred from walking that path to citizenship. Those 400,000 or so people will in effect be in the same status, in the shadows, of the people that we're now trying to bring out.
Amendment Blumenthal 15 is withdrawn.
Amendment Sessions 30 is up for consideration. The amendment would restrict eligibility for the Child Tax Credit.
Sen. Durbin: The Senator made an important point. This does not apply to the 11 million, because they will receive Social Security numbers. Yes, let's address fraud, and the Finance committee should, but this bill.
Sen. Sessions: What's happening is that a person's filing under a false Social Security name, and IRS assigns them an ITIN and files their return. It's clearly a policy that's allowing illegal aliens in our country to get federal checks. Surely we can agree that after this bill passes, we shouldn't continue the policy of sending government benefits to people who are entering illegally in the future.
Sen. Leahy: We have at so many times taken steps that would harm children. And I'm not about to take a step to harm children. This would harm numerous U.S. citizen children. We're all against the idea of fraud, but this seems like an additional punitive measure that will harm a lot of low-wage worker families and their children. I know so many extraordinary hard-working people in my small state. I'm just not going to vote for something that has the implication that they are just here to break the law.
Sen. Sessions: I appreciate the Chairman's concern for children, but I would like to emphasize that this amendment would prohibit the plain rewarding of government benefits to those who come here illegally.
Sen. Durbin: Would the Senator concede that there are three categories of workers: Those who are here legally with Social Security number, those who have declared themselves with ITIN number and are paying taxes, and those who are perhaps working under someone's else's SSN. The Senator has targeted the second group when the focus should be on the third.
Amendment Sessions 30 fails on a vote of 8-10.
Amendment Hirono 20 is up for the consideration. The amendment would require DHS to collect demographic data from RPI applicants. Modified by 2nd degree.
Amendment Hirono 20 passes by a voice vote.
Amendment Grassley 17 is up for the consideration. The amendment eliminates judicial review for revocations and denials of RPI applications, except on challenges to the constitutionality of the legalization provisions.
Sen. Durbin: We acknowledge that the balances in our three branches of government has kept us democratic. If you're to take away this review, you're giving a bureaucrat the opportunity to make decisions with any review. Sen. Schumer: This goes overboard. The incentive to file frivolous claims is small because the individual has no right to stay in the United States pending the court's decision unless you can show that the claim is not frivolous.
Amendment Grassley 17 fails on a vote of 6-12.
Amendment Feinstein 13 is up for the consideration. The amendment expands the grant program in the bill to include individuals in blue card status. Modified by 2nd degree. Feinstein 2nd degree restores to the bill the power of the Consular official to deny a visa.
Amendment Feinstein 13 passes on a voice vote.
Amendment Cornyn 4 is up for consideration. Modified by 2nd degree. The amendment would require DHS to identify victims of each criminal offense by waiver-eligible RPI applicants and to consult with victims to determine whether applicants should be granted a waiver. 2nd degree clarifies that DHS should work with prosecution agencies and that the victims would not suffer adverse immigration consequences.
Sen. Klobuchar: I appreciate the changes that have been made, and I support this amendment.
Sen. Leahy: I understand that we're changing the victim notification period from 90 to 60 days. And that victim cannot be found or does not respond, DHS can proceed.
Sen. Cornyn: The chairman is correct.
Sen. Durbin: I think the modifications really improve this amendment.
Amendment Cornyn 4 passes on a voice vote.
Amendment Cornyn 5 is up for consideration. The amendment expands the situations in which the Secretary is required to disclose information provided on RPI, RPI-adjustment, blue card, DREAMer-adjustment, ag worker- adjustment applications.
Sen. Cornyn: If it's good for victims of crime, why is it not good for illegal immigrants? It would not prohibit individuals from coming forward. The application would have been denied. The amendment would also clarify that the State department can share visa records with other countries on a case-by-case basis.
Sen. Leahy: I'm concerned about a chilling effect.
Sen. Cornyn: The confidentiality would be removed only if the application is denied and all appeals are finished.
Sen. Durbin: You have made your argument based on law enforcement and national security, but i think you amendment goes further. Because it also authorizes civil actions. Are you opening up civil and criminal actions to past employers?
Sen. Cornyn: I believe not.
Amendment Cornyn 5 fails on a vote of 9-9.
Amendment Lee 10 is up for consideration. The amendment defines requirements for establishing compliance with federal tax obligations. The individual must prove compliance by a preponderance of the evidence.
Sen. Leahy: I have a concern that this is really in the jurisdiction of the Finance Committee.
Sen. Schumer: I understand where Sen. Lee is getting at, and I believe Sen. Hatch on the Finance Committee has some ideas, too. We understand that living in the shadows mean not keeping any records. But, we do have another goal here. The goal is to set things right by allowing those in the shadows to come out and to prevent new individuals from come in. As rigid as this amendment is, it would delay and prevent many many people from coming out of the shadows.
Sen. Lee: I'm not understanding what is so rigid about this.
Sen. Schumer: Let's say you have someone who has been working at paying taxes for 12 years. Working for different employers, and can't remember. What do you do?
Sen. Lee: There's nothing particular rigid of this. I understand the concern and I'd be happy to submit this for a voice vote.
Sen. Sessions: it seems to be me you're not requiring the government to investigate everyone. It's if you've been assessed a fine payment by IRS. Maybe they are investigating now.
Amendment Lee 10 fails by a voice vote.
Amendment Lee 8 is up for consideration. The amendment would prohibit aliens who have absconded or have attempted to reenter from receiving RPI status.
Amendment Lee 8 fails by a voice vote.
Amendment Lee 12 is up for consideration. The amendment prohibits the use of sworn affidavits to verify the employment or education of RPIs applying for permanent residence.
Sen. Lee: The RPIs would have work authorization and they should have documentation for the duration of their RPI status.
Sen. Grassley: this amendment ought to be adopted so that we don't repeat the mistakes of 1986.
Sen. Durbin: This is how we learned the lesson from 1986. These affidavits must come from non-relatives who have direct knowledge. If sworn affidavits are used, one more document must be used to support.
Sen. Sessions: Disclosure rules, let's say someone submits a false affidavit, are they free to report to ICE agents?
Sen. Durbin: I don't believe there is any prohibition from that happening.
Amendment Lee 12 fails by a voice vote.
Sen. Leahy: We have five amendments left for Subtitle A, 28 for the rest of the bill. We will continue back here at 2:30.
2:39 pm Sen. Grassley: Senator Lee had an amendment that we defeated. And it was whether we had learned any lessons from 1986. Right before we broke for lunch, we had a vote on Lee 12 (prohibiting use of sworn affidavits) that concerns me that we're repeating those mistakes.
Amendment Cruz 3 is up for consideration. The amendment would remove the path of citizenship for anyone who has ever been "willfully" present in the U.S. unlawfully. Modified by 2nd degree which adds a savings clause that it would not impact those granted asylum.
Sen. Cruz: If legislation that includes a path to citizenship passes, like it did in 1986, I have little doubt that we will be back here in 20-30 years with not just 11 million, but 20-30 million. We need a solution that respect the rule of law and ensures that there are meaningful consequences to breaking the law. If this amendment is adopted to the current bill, the effect will be that those 11 million will still be eligible for RPI status, for legal status, and for LPR status, and would be out of the shadows. This amendment would allow that to happen. It would remove the path of citizenship that shows there are real consequence that respect the rule of law and treat legal immigrants with the fairness they deserve. I want immigration reform to pass, so if the objective is the pass common sense immigration reform, then we should look for areas of bipartisan agreement to come together. and if this amendment pass, the chances of this bill becoming law would be greater.
Sen. Leahy: My concern with this is that it would gut the bill. It gives a false promise of citizenship on the one hand, and then takes it back for the vast majority of the 11 million who would not qualify.
Sen. Schumer: I think this shows the distance some of us are apart. If we don't have a path to citizenship, there is no reform, is how some of us feel. To go to a European system where people can work but never can become a citizen fosters alienation. This amendment goes against everything America stands for. Two classes of Americans, no.
Sen. Flake: We don't want to have millions of people who want to become citizens, but never can. We don't want that. It's important people aspire to that. We don't want a second citizen or communities of them. Not everyone would seek. In 1986, only about 40% of those offered a path to citizenship took it. And a significant number of individuals under this bill will also choose not to take it. But for those who really want it, who want to earn it, they ought to have that opportunity.
Sen. Lee: Out of fairness of those who have tried to play by the rules, it makes sense to give an additional benefit.
Sen. Blumenthal: I think there are other ways to avoid the negative consequences, stronger enforcement of other features of this bill that is designed to prevent those negative consequences. This amendment goes to the very core of the values and traditions of America. The reason people want to come here is that we are a beacon of liberty. We would be diminished as a people by second-class citizenship, actually it would be less than second-class citizenship. It would be two tiers of residency.
Sen. Sessions: With regard to the European situation, it is instructive. Europe, however, does not provide that children can attain citizenship. That is not what would happen here if citizenship was not provided to those who came illegally.
Sen. Cruz: In my opinion, the current bill does not fix the problem. It may incentivize further illegal immigration, further exploitation. I think anyone can have an opportunity to become a citizen, if you come legally. And one way to do that is to expand legal immigration. Tying immigration reform hostage to a path to citizenship is not a strategy to passing a bill.
Amendment Cruz 3 fails by a vote of 5-13.
Amendment Cruz 2 is up for consideration. The amendment prohibits all aliens who entered or remained in the U.S. while not in lawful status from being eligible for federal, state, or local government means-tested benefit or under Affordable Care Act.
Sen. Durbin: This amendment says ok, if you become citizens, under no means would we provide any help. What kind of America are you thinking about? That we would have millions of citizens that couldn't have help with their children's education, or to provide basic health care. I don't think that's an America I want to be a part of.
Sen. Sessions: This is consistent to the Sponsors' intention that those legalized would not be eligible for benefits for 13 years.
Sen. Cruz: I would note that two of the amendments I offered is to expand legal immigration. This is an issue that is near and dear to many of us, and personal to many of us. The purpose of the amendments I have offered here are to fix the problem. To leave 11 million in the shadows if there is no path to citizenship is the less compassionate decision.
Amendment Cruz 2 fails on a vote of 6-12.
Amendment Flake 4 is up for consideration. The amendment clarifies that individuals in RPI status is not eligible for any federal means-tested benefits and would revoke status for those convicted of fraudulently claiming or receiving such a benefit. It would also require DHS Secretary to conduct audits.
Sen. Grassley: I just want to raise a question. Between now and the floor, I think it would be a better thing if it was someone other than the Secretary doing the auditing, and I would suggest the Inspector General.
Amendment Flake 4 passes on a voice vote.
Amendment Flake 3 is up for consideration. The amendment requires that RPIs undergo background checks at the time of renewal of RPI status.
Modified by two 2nd degrees (Flake-2nd degree; Schumer 2nd degree).
Sen. Grassley: I read Sen. Flake's amendment as an improvement. But as with Sen. Schumer's 2nd degree, I see it as going back to the way it was.
Sen. Feinstein: What is the innocent in "brief, casual, and innocent"?
Sen. Flake: What we don't want is someone who leaves the country to violate their RPI status.
Sen. Flake: It's a term of art in immigration law.
Sen. Schumer: It is used in current law frequently, it just means it's brief.
Sen. Flake: It's part of the Fleuti doctrine.
Sen. Sessions: The 6-year review, as I understand it, the RPI is to have a job, be a full-time student, or… If they don't meet the standards, will they be deported?
Sen. Schumer: Yes, if they don't meet the standards, they can be deported.
Sen. Sessions: Can be, should be, Are we going to deport the people.
Sen. Schumer: Remember, we're going to be under a new system. Right now, they're here, they can get a job. If you apply the existing world, obviously it doesn't make sense. If you apply the world that we're trying to make in the next 6 years, it make sense.
Sen. Sessions: I'm nots seeing a commitment to see it enforced.
Sen. Flake: This year, we had about 400,000 deportations, so it is happening. Certainly, with this new legislation, they will be identifiable, they won't be able to gain employment with mandatory E-Verify. Deportations can occur, they will occur, with this new legislation, more easily.
Amendment Flake 3 passes by a voice vote.
Amendment Hatch 10 is up for consideration. Modified by 2nd degree Hatch-Schumer amendment that consolidates Hatch 10-17 and 20.
Sen Leahy: We'll have a vote on the 2nd degree to accept it and open it up for 2nd degree amendments to it.
Hatch-Schumer 2nd degree amendment is up for consideration, to be accepted as substitute to be considered.
Hatch-Schumer 2nd degree amendment passes 16-2.
Sen. Schumer: We make it easier for multi-national companies to transfer employees. We make sure that if there is an American worker that they get the job, but we also make sure that if the American worker doesn't fit the job, that the foreign worker can get the job, instead of now when companies relocate.
Sen. Grassley: The amendment allows the escalator cap to be fluctuated. The amendment does nothing to help unemployed American workers.
Sen. Leahy: There is a floor vote. I encourage everyone to come back. We will go late tonight. Moderately good pizza has been ordered.
Sen. Durbin: When you take a look at the underlying bill, and the amendment from Hatch and Schumer, it makes an effort toward what Senator Grassley and I have done in our bill. First, companies will be required to recruit American workers. On H-1B dependent companies, if we feel that you hare hiring American workers 85% of the time, we're going to treat you differently, but if you have a firm with more than 15% foreign workers, you will have additional requirements to recruit American workers. Most of us think of H-1Bs as high-tech companies hiring engineers. Most of the H-1Bs were outsourcing firms, where they aren't hiring engineers to be engineers, but hiring engineers to placed in firms temporarily. And it deals with that. I would've liked to have seen a different amendment, but this is a dramatic improvement to current law.
Sen. Graham: The most important thing is that you've (Sen. Hatch) made the bill better. I can say without any hesitation that the opportunity of American workers being hired in these sectors is going up because of this. We went too far, Senator Hatch brought us back. We made it too hard on the companies and too much power on the bureaucracy. What you've done, Senator Hatch, to this bill is to make it functional.
First Grassley amendment to the Hatch-Schumer is up for consideration.
Sen. Grassley: This amendment would require all employers to attest that they made a good faith effort in recruiting American workers. My amendment strikes down the watered-down language in the Hatch amendment. My amendment would subject all employers to the higher standard.
Sen. Sessions: I believe prudence would tell us to be careful as we go forward. I don't know where this economy is going, but most economists say we're not creating the kind of jobs we need to be creating. Under this bill, we'll be bringing in 1.2 million immigrants, for the 900,000 jobs that is projected in the 5 years. America is not a technological wasteland as the tech lobbyists would have you believe.
Sen. Hatch: We can't continue to hope that American companies don't move their operations overseas because of our visa policies.
First Grassley amendment to Hatch-Schumer fails on a vote of 2-15. (1 pass)
Second Grassley amendment to the Hatch-Schumer is up for consideration. The amendment protect American women workers STEM field working in companies hiring H-1Bs.
Second Grassley amendment to Hatch-Schumer fails on a vote of 3-15.
Third Grassley amendment to Hatch-Schumer is up for consideration.
Third Grassley amendment to Hatch-Schumer fails on a vote of 2-16.
Fourth Grassley amendment to Hatch-Schumer is up for consideration. The amendment would apply the same wage requirement to all employers.
Sen. Grassley: The bill currently requires H-1B dependent employers to offer Level 2 wages to nonimmigrants. This would make apply it to all employers.
Fourth Grassley amendment to Hatch-Schumer fails on a vote of 3-15.
Amendment Hatch 10 as amended by Hatch-Schumer passes on a voice vote.
Sen. Leahy: Now we're moving on to Subtitle B & C involving agricultural workers and future immigration.
Amendment Whitehouse 4 is up for consideration. The amendment facilitates admission and naturalization of individuals who are employees of Federal national security, science, and technology labs.
Amendment Whitehouse 4 passes on a voice vote.
Amendment Grassley 16 is up for consideration. The amendment allows for the adjustment for inflation of all fees and fines in S.744.
Sen. Grassley: This leaves discretion to the Secretary on the index.
Amendment Grassley 16 fails on a voice vote.
Amendment Franken 9 is up for consideration. The amendment allows battered immigrants to be eligible to receive certain public and assisted housing.
Sen. Franken: The amendment reconciles two laws so that battered women who are here lawfully will be able to receive housing.
Amendment Franken 9 passes on a voice vote.
Amendment Sessions 2 is up for consideration. The amendment imposes a 20 million numerical limitation on individuals admitted as LPRs during the 10 fiscal years.
Sen. Sessions: I won't ask for a vote on this. But I would like to know how many we are receiving in immigration. There are 11 million, 4.5 million who would be given accelerated admission who are currently held down by the caps, and then 1.4 million for 10 years, that's about 30 million.
Amendment Sessions 2 is withdrawn.
Amendment Coons 3 is up for consideration. The amendment allows surviving spouses and children of U.S. government employees abroad who are killed in the line of duty.
Amendment Coons 3 passes on a voice vote.
Amendment Cornyn 8 is up for consideration. Modified by 2nd degree amendment. The amendment adds communities near closed or realigned military bases in the definition of targeted employment area in the EB-5 regional center context.
Amendment Cornyn 8 passes on a voice vote.
Amendment Hirono 1 is up for consideration. The amendment excepts children of certain Filipino World War II veterans from the numerical limitations on immigrant visas.
Amendment Hirono passes on a voice vote.
Sen. Whitehouse: We don't have an amendment at the moment, but Sen. Graham and I are working on ways to address the cyber attacks One approach is to allow the Secretary to designate where the attacks are and another is to allow a S visa for someone who will testify or work against these cyber networks.
Amendment Cruz 4 is up for consideration. The amendment modifies the numerical limitations for family-sponsored and employment-based visas. It also removes per country caps.
Sen. Cruz: I am a strong advocate of legal immigration.
Sen. Schumer: In our bill, we have a delicate balance. This amendment would cut back on family by more than 25% and I would urge in defeated.
Sen. Sessions: While this would allow more immigrants in, the policy provisions in it are very good unlike the bill before us today.
Sen. Cruz: Indeed as it is structured, it would allow those who come here for employment to come with their families, so some of the family reunification is shifted to the employment.
Amendment Cruz 4 fails on a vote of 6-12.
Amendment Coons 9 is up for consideration. Modified by 2nd degree.
Sen. Coons: The amendment modifies Coons 1 which would require enhanced notification to individuals in the E-Verify system. This 2nd degree reduces the enhanced notification the cases where a system returns a nonconfirmation.
Amendment Coons 9 passes on a voice vote.
Amendment Grassley 19 is up for consideration. The amendment mandates USCIS to file reports to Congress on fraud. Modified to annual reports instead of quarterly.
Amendment Grassley 19 passes on a voice vote.
Amendment Hirono 10 is up for consideration. The amendment permits U.S. citizen suffering extreme hardship to petition for an adult son and daughter or a sibling.
Sen. Graham: In the future we are going to have a merit based economic system. Economic system with a family component. I respect what you are trying to do, but it would upset the balance.
Sen. Hirono: How would a single woman fair under the point system.
Sen. Graham: If you have family, you get 10 points. You get points for learning English. You will get points if you have desirable skills. I've asked for a new way around doing immigration that is economic based.
Sen. Blumenthal: I would like to join this measure as a co-sponsor and say that I support it.
Sen. Schumer: I reluctantly against this amendment. As Senator Graham said, we had a very careful balance in this bill. There are a large group of people who want a robust family immigration system. Others wanted a robust economic based immigration. Families do really well under this system. We have a petition system. This is a good amendment, but we could come up with amendments on the other side to take away from family and give to economic migration. Trying to get bipartisan compromise, I have to reluctantly vote note.
Sen. Durbin: The reason we have a CIR bill that will help 11 million Americans is because we sat down and reached an agreement. It was a give and take. I commend Senator Graham and Flake for voting no when it was tough. I must hold firm.
Sen. Whitehouse: There are times you have to stand by the agreement that put this together.
Sen. Graham: I get it. I was 21 when my mom died and 22 when my dad died. I adopted my 13 year old sister to make sure she got air force benefits. I get it. I've been bending over backwards to have a strong family component. I'm not going back to a chain migration system. As to hard votes, these are two hard votes for my colleagues from New York and Illinois. But I've been voting for 6 days.
Sen. Feinstein: I think it has been a unique process because those people who are members who have put this together and stood together. My hope is that that bipartisan agreement is enough so that what happened on the floor the last time doesn't happen again. I think this amendment would drive apart the agreement. Is this worth no bill. I've decided it is not. So, I think it is a fair system as is. I know it is hard for people to accept, but I want a bill. We need to keep the support. I am a no vote on the amendment.
Sen. Hirono: That this is not an amendment about chain migration. It is a narrowly crafted amendment that does not reopen sibling or married children over 31. It is for very specific situation where a U.S. citizen would suffer extreme hardship.
Sen. Sessions: I would not that a points system is something I would support but it only involves 8 to 16% of people who would be coming in the future.
Amendment Hirono 10 fails on a vote of 7-11.
Amendment Sessions 15 is up for consideration. The amendment would remove judicial review and shift visa authority from Department of State to DHS.
Sen. Sessions: This deals with an important matter that I believe the committee and gang would recognize. One of the problems we discovered was that Secretary Napolitano said that who issues visa revocations is not clear. This amendment would provide current authority to both Secretaries of DHS and DOS to revoke visas. I would ask my colleagues to support the amendment.
Sen. Leahy: I'm not a fan of court stripping legislation.
Sen. Schumer: I want to oppose this amendment on similar grounds that the chairman did. It takes away any judicial review ever. That is not the hallmark of democracy. I have to say, do we want to live in that kind of country? A country with no due process for people we have invited to come here? I would urge this amendment be defeated.
Sen. Sessions: Under current law, the State Department can revoke visas.
Sen. Schumer: They can get a revocation hearing.
Sen. Sessions: Someone who is hear is hear at the pleasure of the U.S. I think you are constantly creating litigation that goes beyond anything we have done before. I know immigration lawyers that you like to meet with like to litigate. I think he amendment is correct, and i believe the Secretary of Homeland Security ought to be given this authority.
Amendment Sessions 15 fails by a voice vote
Amendment Hirono 11 is up for consideration. The amendment would require a GAO study on the impact of the merit based system on family. Under this amendment, the GAO must submit a study no later than 7 years after the date of enactment.
Amendment Hirono 11 passes by a voice vote.
Amendment Klobuchar 5 passes by a voice vote.
Amendment Leahy 7 is up for consideration. The amendment recognizes for purposes of the INA, any marriage entered into in full compliance with the laws of the State or foreign country within which such marriage was performed.
Sen. Leahy: People face discrimination based on who they love. I understand that not all states have reached this point of being compassionate as my home state of Vermont. Just since the introduction of immigration reform, we have had 3 states join Vermont. Regardless of state efforts, federal law continues to discriminate against people based on who they love. My amendment would not change a single state law. DOMA makes 1,000 of American families left secure. IN the immigration context, if you are an American and fall in love with someone of the same sex in another country and get married legally, you cannot petition for your spouse. I don't want to be the Senator who made someone choose between love of their spouse and love of their country.
Sen. Graham: I think a lot of folks have been wondering what you would do about this issue and how you would handle it. I want to be the first to say that your passion for marriage equality has not changed. The country is going through a debate on how to define marriage state by state. When it comes to immigration reform, we have put together the most effective coalition since 2005. I've been asked a lot about what would this mean. If we try to redefine marriage w/in the immigration debate, it would mean the bill would fall apart because the coalition would fall apart. There are a lot of people in S.C. who would support this bill but find it a bridge too far. The courts are dealing with this issue. I would just urge my colleagues to understand that traditional marriage is a well-accepted concept. When it comes to passing this immigration bill, interjecting a new definition of marriage would be a bridge too far. I would urge my colleagues to understand that this would fracture the coalition. I have an obligation to listen to the people of South Carolina. This is the best chance I've seen since dealing with the issue. I support traditional marriage without animosity. But not only could I not support the amendment, but I believe that it would break the coalition.
Sen. Leahy: Does the Senator see anything in the amendment that would require your state to change the definition of marriage or require your state to pass new laws?
Sen. Graham: You got me on immigration but not on marriage.
Sen. Feinstein: One of the cases before the Supreme Court is an equal protection case. The Supreme Court may settle this all and would make this moot. This amendment would assure that same sex couples are accorded the same protections of heterosexual couples. In short, same sex marriages would be entitled to equal treatment under the law. There would be no need to create a different category. There is a problem. Like Senator Hirono's amendment, this could blow this bill apart. I don't won't to blow this bill apart. I don't want to lose Senator Graham's vote. I am for what Senator Leahy is proposing, I would just say hold up on this amendment at this time. I think we can get it done in a way that will not blow apart this bill.
Sen. Leahy: I listen to people who support what I'm doing and those who don't. I said I would certainly hear from anyone who wishes to speak. I held this to the end so we could get through the rest of the amendments.
Sen. Flake: What a pleasure it has been to be so new in the Senate and be part of this process. I think this process that we have gone through has been a real antidote to this process. You haven't cut any person off and you have allowed anyone to offer any amendment. This immigration bill is a heavy lift as we all know going through the process. We can only make that lift if we have the broadest coalition possible. This is an issue that is being addressed by the courts right now. I think it would certainly upset the coalition right now. It would certainly mean this bill would not move forward, which would be a real shame. I thank you for this process. I hope the amendment could be withdrawn.
Sen. Durbin: I'm a cosponsor of UAFA and Senator Feinstein's bill. My position I hope is very clear. What we've witnessed is an order of priorities. I can tell you I know how difficult it is to withdraw an amendment. I want to make certain that the people who would benefit from immigration reform get it. There will be another day. I hope that today we can keep this coalition together.
Sen. Leahy: When I talk to legally married couples in my state, and they say that we can't dream because we are the same sex. I constantly ask myself how I would feel. I appreciate what you have said about me and this process Senator from Arizona and South Carolina.
Sen. Schumer: I too want to add my voice to thank you for having an open and fair process. I would also like to say that i know your passion on this issue. It is consistent with you record and beliefs. I want to say that this is one of the most excruciating and difficult decisions I have had to make. I know our constitution and core principles calls for equality. It is rank discrimination, and I believe in it strongly. It is a basic principle of fairness that you should not treat one class of people differently. Should same sex partners have the same rights as heterosexual couples? Absolutely. I believe so strongly they should. The law needs to change. I believe that the American people support this. I have urged inclusion of these principles in an immigration bill. Those in the group believe that it will rip apart the bill. But all I can do is try to persuade, bargain, and cajole. I cannot compel them to believe and ask otherwise. They've made perfectly clear that if this provision is added to the bill, they will have no choice but to abandon this bill. I wish it were otherwise. The bottom line is that in the political reality in which we operate, those who hold differently have the power to stop this bill. If we make the effort to add it to this bill, they will walk away. They have told me publicly and privately. No equality, no immigration bill. Nothing gets accomplishment. Much as it pains me, I cannot support this amendment if it will bring down this bill. I want to let them know that I will be here and ready to work with the LGBT community to advance the cause of equality.
Sen. Franken: This is the definition of a Hobbesian choice. In my bones, I believe in equality. I believe in equal protection of the law. I think Senator Durbin and Senator Schumer have said it. This will get resolved hopefully sooner than later. Boy I wish my colleagues on the other side felt differently. It is wrong to discriminate against people but I do not want the LGBT people who would be hurt by this whole bill not passing to be hurt by this falling apart.
Sen. Leahy: I heard a Senator not on this committee, not in my party, that if I included this it would kill this. I believe fixing our broken immigration system is this committee's top priority. I believe this legislation will make us safer, it will help spur the economy. It is not the bill I would draft. It is with a heavy heart that the Senator that I heard on that radio talk show who said the whole immigration legislation would be killed if I offered this amendment. I will withhold this amendment. I say this with a heavy heart.
Amendment Leahy 7 is withdrawn.
Sen. Graham: I want to thank you for the way you have conduct this hearing. This is the best mark-up I've been involved in. We will have this debate. But it should be done outside this bill. Your decision today has represented the best opportunity to get this bill passed. You set an example.
Sen. Whitehouse: I didn't want to close without expressing my appreciate for all of the members of the committee but particularly Senator Durbin, Schumer, Graham, and Flake. I think this has been very impressively done.
Sen. Whitehouse: I didn't want to close without expressing my appreciate for all of the members of the committee but particularly Senator Durbin, Schumer, Graham, and Flake. I think this has been very impressively done.
Sen. Hatch: I commend this committee for the good work on this bill. I filed 4 amendments on financial issues that would make this bill better. These are not poison pill amendments. I filed them in good faith. Thus far, the authors of this legislation have shown a willingness to work with me. I will vote this bill out of committee, but if these issues are not addressed on the floor, I will vote against this bill on the floor. I think we have come a long way, and I want us to continue that will get people in the House to support.
Sen. Schumer: We have talked a little about the financial amendments but he has my commitment to try and work something out. I will give it my college try best. Each side will have to give, but this has been an excellent process. We hope to continue this process on the floor.
Sen. Klobuchar: I wish we could move forward with marriage equality, but I understand why. I appreciate all the work and the heart felt views. I wanted to say how proud I am of this committee. This has been the longest mark-up I've been involved in. This has been a bill that focused on security. I'm proud of this bill from the economic perspective. As well as the pathway to citizenship. Thank you for this civil mark-up.
Sen. Flake: Asked for adoption of technical amendments for Flake 3.
Sen. Coons: I want to add my thanks for a positive mark-up on this bill. But immigration also implicates are most fundamental values. There has been many tough votes cast. There are many members of the Gang of 8 who had offers they wanted be refrained from offering. Whether it is through court decision or amendments on the floor or legislation, Iit is my intent to end discrimination against same sex couples. I'm grateful at how hard you have worked. I recognize this evening may have not been the evening to consider UAFA.
Sen. Cornyn: I want to thank you for a good mark-up. My only regret is that more of my amendments did not pass. None of us are guaranteed that our amendments will pass. I too have been involved in this debate the entire time I've been in the Senate. I think I've made clear that the only way that I can support a piece of legislation if it credibly dealt with border security, which this bill does not, if it deals with 40% of visa overstays, which I look forward to working with Senator Feinstein on the floor, and an effective work site enforcement. The American people aren't mad at people who come here to work. I believe the American people are fundamentally compassionate. I believe if we deal with those issues. I regret that I am going to vote no on the bill coming out of committee. I will vote yes on a motion to proceed on the floor and encourage my colleagues to do the same. I believe it is important to get on the bill on the floor. I don't know if it will ever meet my standards on the floor. I can't vote for something that is not credible but I will work together with colleagues to further improve the bill on the floor. I do congratulate the gang of 8 in moving the bill forward.
Sen. Blumenthal: Like my colleagues, I want to thank you for your leadership and the compassion and commitment you brought to this debate. I also want to thank the ranking member for enabling us to improve this bill. I want to thank the group of 8. These deliberations have been what I thought the U.S. Senate would be. Finally, I thank you Mr. Chairman for your commitment to UAFA which I cosponsored. The greatest nation in the history of the world should not make people choose between living in the country they love and living with the person they love. I believe that there will be other opportunities. Again, I thank you Mr. Chairman.
Sen. Hirono: I do support your marriage amendment, I hope we can move forward to repeal DOMA. As a new Senator, it has been a real honor to be a part of this process.
Sen. Cruz: I would like to than the Chairman for his willingness to consider the amendments and for allowing vigorous debate on those amendments. This has been a long and painstaking mark-up, and I thank you for keeping it open. At the outset, I hoped this mark-up would be a productive mark-up of this bill. I noted the majority had the votes. I will note with regret that I believe that is what has happened. I want common sense immigration reform to pass. I think our immigration system is broken. I think there are large majorities who want to get immigration reform to pass. This bill does not stop the problem. Human tragedy would flow as a direct result of this bill. I believe this bill will not become law because it will not pass the House of Representatives and become law. In the course of this mark-up, I've introduced 5 amendments. One of the greatest failings of this bill is that it is almost utterly toothless with respect to the border. I think it is unfortunate that we saw the votes that we did.
Sen. Grassley: Coming into the debate I think I made my position clear. I vote for amnesty in 1986. Now we are back discussing the same problems with the same solutions. I hope we reach that point [where we fix this once and for all]. The sponsors of the bill want us to believe that it will be different. No one would dispute that this bill is legalization first and enforcement later. Yes, immigration reform is very much desired because the system is broken. But it is pretty much based on securing the borders. I used the committee process to attempt to strengthen border security. At the end of the day and with the power of majority, argued against securing the border for another decade the triggers are inefficient and ineffective. This bill falls short of what I want to see in a strong immigration bill. In Iowa, one of the resentments is that people who have gone through legally are resentful of people who jumped over the gate. I remain optimistic that on the floor we can vote on common sense amendments to improve the bill. Again, I respect that process we have had here in this committee. We had an open process which isn't new or unexpected. I'm glad that we continued this tradition. Now the hard work begins to fix this bill. Absent significant changes on the Senate Floor, the house should take up their own product. I thank the Chairman for working constructively. I will vote this bill to the floor. I hope that nobody has their mind made up on exactly how this bill will end up. I won't know if I'm for this bill or not until it gets to this process. The system is broke.
Sen. Leahy: I will put my whole statement in the record. First, I appreciate what Senators have said about the openness and fairness of this process. I want to thank every single Senator for cooperating. I want to single out 4 Senators for special recognition who worked many hours beyond to put this together. We've tried to work out the best and fairest way. This is not the bill I would have drafted. I voted for amendments that have been rejected and against amendments that have been adopted. My biggest regret is that this amendment will not protect all Americans. I hope that our history, our values and our decency as a people take action. We're Americans. We need an immigration system that lives up to American values. I call the roll on final passage of the legislation as amended.
S. 744 passes by a vote of 13-5.
Cite as AILA Doc. No. 13052145.