WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene rolled out a new immigration bill Wednesday, attempting to restart a move toward comprehensive reform that has stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
The bill, called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, largely mirrors a measure passed by the Senate earlier this year. It would, among other things, allow citizenship for people living in the United States illegally 13 years after they apply and would admit more highly-skilled immigrants.
The annual cap on employment-based visas would remain at 140,000. But that ceiling would not apply to foreigners with master’s degree or higher in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields from American universities or people with “extraordinary ability,” among others.
In effect, that means STEM graduates with advanced degrees with American job offers would get green cards for permanent residency.
Significantly, the bill strips out a provision inserted in the Senate version by Republicans, called the Corker-Hoeven amendment, that imposes tough border-security conditions that must be met before any green cards can be issued.
DelBene, D-Medina, co-sponsored the bill with four Democratic lawmakers: Reps. Judy Chu of California, Jared Polis of Colorado, Steven Horsford of Nevada and Joe Garcia of Florida, the lead sponsor. DelBene, Chu and Garcia serve on the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over immigration issues.
The chairman of that committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, has not put any immigration bills on the House floor. He has favored a piecemeal approach to immigration reform. None of the bills passed by the House Judiciary Committee include a pathway for citizenship for undocumented residents.
Look for full story in Thursday’s paper from my colleague, Lornet Turnbull.