May 25th, 2006 - WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate passed comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation (S. 2611), introduced by U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), today by a vote of 62 to 36. The bill to fix America’s broken immigration system will now go to a House-Senate Conference Committee to resolve differences between the two bills passed by both houses of Congress.
"In my ten years in the Senate, this is the most significant and far-reaching piece of legislation the Senate has passed. For years, we have ignored the hard decisions required to fix our porous borders and our broken immigration system. Our nation has paid a heavy price for our neglect. By passing this bill today, we have put our country on a responsible course to secure our borders, stop illegal immigration and implement a rational immigration reform policy that makes sense for our country.
"The President deserves great credit for his leadership on this issue. I am confident that the House-Senate Conference Committee will work through the differences in the two bills and produce a responsible bill that secures our borders and fixes our broken immigration system. The American people will demand it," Hagel said.
The Hagel-Martinez bill includes:
More than doubling the number of border patrol agents by adding 14,400 new agents to the current force, bringing the total to 25,983;
A 70% increase in immigration and customs enforcement officers, bringing the total to 9,500;
Quadrupling of border fencing, enhancement of electronic surveillance, and addition of 20 new detention facilities;
Requirements that aliens with work authorization show a biometric, machine-readable and tamper-resistant identification card;
Requirements that anyone seeking employment who claims to be a U.S. Citizen must show a machine-readable, tamper-resistant identification card that includes a digital photograph of the individual;
Establishing an employee electronic verification system to verify that newly hired employees are legal and increase maximum fines to employers for hiring illegal workers to $20,000 for each worker and impose up to three years of jail;
Providing for a workable temporary guest-worker program. Guest workers would need to be employed to apply for a permanent residency green card;
Requirements that any illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. five years or more would have to pay a $3,250 fine and back taxes, pass national security and criminal background checks, prove they have worked for at least 3 years, register for military service, demonstrate knowledge of English and American civics and work an additional six years;
Requirements that illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. between two and five years leave the U.S. and return through a port of entry in order to obtain a temporary work visa and meet the same requirements as those who have been in the country more than five years;
Requirements that illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. less than two years voluntarily return home or be deported;
Requirements that no one who has entered the country illegally be considered for citizenship before anyone who has played by the rules and gone through the system legally.
Friday, May 26, 2006
"Senate Passes Hagel-Martinez Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation"
Press release from Chuck Hagel's Senate website: