Thursday, December 24, 2009

Labor News

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Immigration Legislation on Hold

Washington--U.S. House Democrats introduced a bill that would overhaul the country’s immigration laws, although aides say the bill is on hold until the health-care debate is completed.

The legislation introduced by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D., Ill.), the chairman of the House Immigration Caucus. The effort has the backing of two key groups within the House Democratic membership – the Hispanic and liberal-leaning Progressive caucuses.

It offers a path to legal residence for people currently living illegally in the U.S., and creates a new panel within the Department of Homeland Security to make recommendations about future inflows of immigrants, according to an aide to a member of the Progressive Caucus familiar with the legislation.

Illegal residents in the U.S. with no criminal records would be able to pay a fine, start to pay taxes, take English and civic classes, and after six years be able to apply for a green card. It was unclear how large the fine would be, and whether the immigrants would be required to pay unpaid back taxes.

The bill would largely defer the issue of future inflows of immigrants to officials at the DHS, who will make an annual recommendation to Congress about how many new entrants will be allowed.
No new funds are made available to beef up border security, but the DHS secretary would be tasked with conducting a review and reporting to Congress about what further resources would be required, the aide said.

The bill takes steps to implement an Internet-based verification program for employers to ensure that prospective employees are legal, but stops short of making that program mandatory. Universal usage of the E-Verify program is the ultimate goal, the aide said, and Congress would be instructed to review its take-up by employers.

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