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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

     By Mr. HAGEL:
  S. 1916. A bill to strengthen national security and United States 
borders, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
       By Mr. HAGEL:
  S. 1917. A bill to require employers to verify the employment 
eligibility of their employees, and for other purposes; to the 
Committee on the Judiciary.
       By Mr. HAGEL:
  S. 1918. A bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to 
address the demand for foreign workers; to the Committee on the 
       By Mr. HAGEL:
  S. 1919. A bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act in order 
to reunify families, to provide for earned adjustment of status, and 
for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mr. HAGEL. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce my comprehensive 
immigration reform legislation. This legislative package consists of 
four bills that deal with national security, employment security, 
America's workforce, and bringing accountability to those living here 
illegally. This package is an enhanced version of immigration reform 
legislation I introduced in 2004 with former Senate Minority Leader Tom 
  Immigration reform is an urgent national security priority. We cannot 
continue to defer making tough choices about our nation's immigration 
policy. It is not in our interest to have 8 to 12 million people 
undocumented and unaccounted for in our country. The American people 
won't accept immigration reform until they are convinced we are 
controlling our borders. Congress must reform the patchwork of 
immigration laws that have created an underground, black market labor 
  The first bill is the Strengthening America's Security Act of 2005. 
The bill strengthens national security and U.S. borders by assisting 
law enforcement in their efforts to secure our borders. It will 
increase the number of Customs and Border Protection officers; require 
DHS to use updated technology at the border; increase criminal 
penalties for alien smuggling, document fraud, misuse of social 
security numbers, gang violence, and drug trafficking at the border; 
authorize continued funds to reimburse states for the costs of 
detaining undocumented aliens; and give DHS additional tools to detain 
and deport undocumented aliens.
  The second bill, the Employment Verification Act of 2005, requires 
employers to verify the employment eligibility of their employees. The 
bill will assist all employers in their effort to hire legal workers by 
establishing a mandatory electronic worker verification system. The 
system would be managed by DHS in conjunction with the Social Security 
Administration. The system will allow employers to immediately verify 
whether an individual is authorized to work in the U.S. This system is 
already being used by the federal government and by certain employers 
across the country, including some in Nebraska. The system will be 
phased-in over a 5 year period, starting with large employers. The 
legislation includes protections to ensure that the system will not 
result in hiring discrimination based on race or national origin, nor 
will it interfere with the regular hiring process. Employers who use 
the system will receive a ``safe-harbor'' from prosecution for hiring 
unauthorized workers.
  The Strengthening America's Workforce Act of 2005 will amend the 
Immigration and Nationality Act to address

[[Page S11826]]

the demand for foreign workers. The bill will provide foreign workers 
for low-skilled jobs that would otherwise go unfilled by admitting a 
limited number of workers annually through a new temporary worker 
program. Employers seeking to hire foreign workers through this program 
must first demonstrate that no qualified U.S. worker exists and that 
they will provide the same wage levels and working conditions as U.S. 
workers. Workers will be admitted for a limited period of time and will 
be allowed to change employers. Visas are good for 2 years and can be 
renewed. Qualified workers and their families would be provided an 
opportunity to adjust their immigration status over time.
  In order to address the need for high-tech workers and to reduce the 
existing worker visa backlog, this legislation would allow foreign 
students who have earned an advanced degree in science, technology, 
engineering or math from U.S. universities to receive a H-1B work visa 
without leaving the country and without regard to the annual cap of 
65,000. In addition, high-tech workers who have worked in the U.S. for 
three years may be allowed to adjust to permanent resident status 
without regard to the annual cap of 140,000. The spouses and children 
of immigrant workers would also be allowed to adjust status without 
regard to this cap.
  In order to encourage more foreign students to study in the U.S., 
this legislation would give full-time foreign college and graduate 
students the opportunity to work part-time while studying at U.S. 
  The fourth bill, the Immigrant Accountability Act of 2005, will amend 
the Immigration and Nationality Act in order to encourage those in the 
U.S. illegally to apply for legal status. The legislation would create 
an earned adjustment program for long-term undocumented Immigrants and 
provide an opportunity for illegal aliens and their families to become 
invested stakeholders in the country if they can demonstrate that they 
have met all of the following requirements:
  Passed national security and criminal background checks;
  Resided in the U.S. for at least 5 years preceding the date of 
  Worked a minimum of 3 years in the U.S. preceding the date of 
introduction, and 6 years after introduction;
  Paid all Federal and State taxes;
  Registered for Military Selective Service;
  Demonstrated knowledge of English language and American civics 
  Paid a $2,000 fine, in addition to required application fees. Fines 
assessed from this program could total as much as $12 billion.
  The legislation would create a program for short-term undocumented 
immigrants who cannot meet the work or residence requirements. They 
will register with DHS and will be allowed to apply for a visa. 
However, these undocumented immigrants must return to their home 
country to obtain the visa and be readmitted through the legal process. 
These undocumented immigrants will have three years to complete the 
application process and will be authorized to work during that time.
  There is a backlog reduction provision in the bill that would exempt 
certain individuals, living outside the U.S., from existing caps on 
family-based immigrant visas. This section was originally included in 
the 2004 Hagel/Daschle Immigration Reform bill.
  The new fines and fees created by this legislation will fund the new 
and expanded programs created in it. Fines assessed by this legislation 
could total as much as $12 billion. A majority of the funds will come 
from the $2000 fine illegal aliens would pay under the Earned 
Adjustment Program.
  This legislation is the product of years of discussions with law 
enforcement, business, labor, and advocacy communities. The bills are a 
serious effort to meet the President's principles for reform with 
commonsense legislation. In March, I visited the Mariposa Nogales Port 
of Entry in Arizona at the U.S.-Mexico border and saw first-hand border 
patrol operations with U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.
  I understand that immigration reform is a complex and difficult 
issue. In addition to the legislation I have introduced today, there 
are other proposals on the table. The American people won't accept any 
more excuses. Now is the time for us to stop deferring tough decisions 
and take action on this urgent national priority.