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February 12, 2018

Important week for immigration and thousands of immigrants as they await the update from the congress. The government was shutdown again for less than a day with both the parties failing to reach a deal on the spending bill. The government opened after the congress passed a spending bill last week. 
However, there is no legislative fix on the fate of so called Dreamers (thousands of young undocumented immigrants who were bought to the US as children). The Trump administration announced in September last year the DACA program will end on March 5, 2018.
It is a very crucial week as the Congress is in the middle of finding a legislative fix with regards to immigration reform which includes the decision for the Dreamers. The Senate members and the House members agreed on the spending bill on the agreement that the Immigration reform will be put to vote and a legislation will be passed to protect the dreamers.
On Sunday night February 11, 2018, a group of Republican Senators have released a version of President Trump’s immigration proposal ahead of a floor debate on immigration this week.


Lawmakers in the Senate will attempt to write a legislation that protects the so-called Dreamers from deportation and also implement strong border security elements as well as reforms to end chain migration and the visa lottery system.


Congress has begun efforts to pass bipartisan immigration reform -- starting on Monday 02/12/2018 with a rare, open-ended Senate debate set to focus largely on the future of tens of thousands of illegal immigrants known as "Dreamers."


The current biggest issue on immigration is that the Republican members are unable to resolve it among themselves. Republican members failed to reach a consensus at their annual meeting recently held in West Virginia. And with so less time it is difficult to resolve it among Republicans and then build a bipartisan coalition in the Senate that the White House can also agree on, and that the House can agree on.


Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recently vowed that as long as the federal government stays solvent and open that he would allow such debate and see that proposals get a floor vote -- with the Dreamers’ temporary deportation protections expiring March 5.


The proposal is expected to include several amendments that the Senate will consider during this week as it debates immigration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has used a bill unrelated to immigration as the starting point for the debate, which will allow senators to offer proposals that can compete for 60 votes to advance.


The bill from Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley, John Cornyn, James Lankford, Thom Tillis, David Perdue, Tom Cotton and Joni Ernst largely resembles what Trump has proposed.


  • The White House proposal offered a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million eligible immigrants, more than the 800,000 of whom registered for DACA in the five years of the program.

  • The White House seeks upwards of $25 billion for border security and a wall, a number of changes to laws to make it easier to deport and detain immigrants,

  • A substantial cut to legal immigration based on family relationships and an end to the diversity visa lottery.

It is also heard that the bipartisan groups of senators have been meeting for weeks to try to come to an agreement on legislation. It is also being said that a separate group of bipartisan congressional lawmakers and Trump administration officials have also been meeting recently to discuss the same issues.


It is true that an accord has not materialized among both the parties, mostly because Democrats do not want changes to chain migration. Many Republicans want to limit chain migration to minor children and spouses, which Democrats believe is too limited. Democrats do not want it to be included in the bill at all.


There is also news that the Senate Republicans from the upper chamber could take up a bill that legalizes Dreamers in exchange for border security funding, excluding the chain migration and visa lottery changes. However, the House negotiators did not welcome the plan.


It is also heard that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte has authored a bill to protect Dreamers in exchange for border security and immigration reforms, including ending chain migration and the visa lottery system.


The bill has the support of many conservatives, but it’s not clear whether it would win 218 Republican votes. Mr. Goodlatte is expecting that the bill would be put to vote and that he is already building support among GOP members.


President Trump, who spoke to Republican lawmakers at their retreat, urged them to incorporate his immigration framework, which ends chain migration and the visa lottery system. President Trump also that suggested he will not sign a bill that does not reform chain migration and the visa lottery system.


It is informed that the President’s framework includes provisions to offer pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million people who arrived here as children.


Senate Democrats also held a separate retreat last week. However, details of their immigration reform were not made available. In short, the state of immigration negotiations in Congress remains decentralized and disjointed.


As proposed by the White House, the cuts to the family system and diversity lottery would be used to allow in the 4 million to 5 million immigrants already waiting years -- and in some cases decades -- in the backlog for visas. So it might be great to see that all the high skilled immigrants who are waiting for many years to get their status adjusted finally are able to seek the legal permanent residency.


McConnell, R-Ky., has scheduled an initial procedural vote for Monday evening to start debate. It is expected to succeed easily, and then the Senate will spend days or weeks sorting through proposals. We look forward to a positive solution as both the parties discuss on the immigration reform.


For latest updates and news on immigration, please visit www.emandilaw.com.

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