HTML _ IB10044 - Immigration Legislation and Issues in the 106th Congress
18-Oct-2000; Joyce Vialet, Ruth Ellen Wasem, William Krouse, Andora Bruno, Larry Eig; 15 p.

Abstract: The top immigration issue before the 106th Congress is the admission of temporary foreign professional workers, commonly referred to as H-1B nonimmigrants. Despite enactment of legislation in 1998 to increase the number of H-1B nonimmigrants, pressure is mounting in the 106th Congress to raise the admissions ceiling further. The 1998 law increased the admissions ceiling for the H-1B visa category from 65,000 to 115,000 for both FY1999 and FY2000. FY2000 admissions hit 115,000 by mid-March, however, and many in the business community, notably in the information technology area, are urging that the ceiling be raised again. A number of House and Senate bills to increase the H-1B admissions ceiling are pending. The Senate Judiciary Committee has marked up S. 2045, the ¨American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000,¨ which would add an additional 297,500 H-1B visas over FY2000-FY2002. S. 2045 also would ease the per-country ceilings for permanent employment-based admissions and would expand the availability of math, science, and technology scholarships. The House Judiciary Committee's Immigration and Claims Subcommittee has reported H.R. 4227, the ¨Technology Worker Temporary Relief Act.¨ H.R. 4227 would eliminate the numerical limit on H-1B visas for FY2000 and would allow for temporary increases in FY2001 and FY2002 if certain conditions are met. It also would revise the requirements that H-1B employers must meet. Another pending H-1B bill, H.R. 3983, would add an additional 362,500 H-1B visas over FY2001-FY2003. The future structure of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) is another issue under consideration. The Clinton Administration is moving forward to restructure INS internally by separating the agency's enforcement and service functions. Congress, however, may restructure INS legislatively. At issue for Congress is whether separating the agency's enforcement and service functions will lead to more effective administration of immigration law; and, if so, how this should best be done. The House Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee has approved H.R. 3918, the ¨Immigration Reorganization and Improvement Act of 1999,¨ which would establish a bureau of immigration services and a bureau of immigration enforcement within the Department of Justice. Legislation pertaining to H-2A temporary alien agricultural workers is also before the 106th Congress. A provision intended to expedite the Labor Department's processing of H-2A labor certification applications has been enacted (P.L. 106-78). S. 1814 and H.R. 4056, controversial bills to establish an amnesty program for unauthorized seasonal workers and modify the operation of the H-2A program, are pending. Congress continues to deal with bills prompted by the sweeping changes in the immigration and welfare acts passed in 1996. P.L. 106-69 includes a repeal of Section 656(b) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), pertaining to Social Security numbers on drivers' licenses, that raised concerns about a national ID card. Additionally, legislation enacted in the first session appears to have at least temporarily resolved most refugee issues (P.L. 106-104, P.L. 106-113). [read report]

Topics: Population, Legislative

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