Immigration Law Changes of 2013 & 2014 Explained
The following information outlines some of the important immigration bills that were introduced in 2013 and 2014, and a basic explanation of what these bills mean.
- R.2278: The bill is called the “Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act”. It was passed on June 18, 2013. The bill expands immigration enforcement at state and local levels and makes unlawful presence an illegal act with proposed jail time.
- R. 2131: The bill is called the “Supplying Knowledge-Based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEMS Visas Act” (SKILLS Visa Act). It passed on June 19, 2013. The bill provides immigrant and nonimmigrant employment-based visas for skilled workers, while lowering family-based immigration and getting rid of the diversity visa program.
- R. 1773: The bill is called the “Agricultural Guestworker Act.” The bill was passed on June 19, 2013. The bill both simplifies and expands visa programs for immigrant agricultural workers, lowers wages and reduces the number of worker protection provisions in place.
- R. 1772: The bill is called the “Legal Workforce Act”. It was voted out on June 26, 2013. It would have established a national electronic employment eligibility verification system that would have been required for use by all employers within two years.
- R. 1417: The bill is called the “Border Security Results Act.” Passed by unanimous voice vote on May 15, 2013, this bill requires the control of the southwestern border within five years and requires measurable metrics and independent verification of the results.
- R. 15: The bill is called the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.” As of March 2014, the bill had 199 co-sponsors and it is basically a modified version of S.744, which is a major immigration bill passed by the Senate on June 27, 2014. It’s a comprehensive bill which addresses border security, a pathway for citizenship for undocumented immigrants, interior enforcement, reduction of visa backlogs, family visas and higher and lower skilled worker visas.
- R. 3431: The bill is called the “American Families United Act”. Introduced on October 2, 2013, it amends the current immigration system to allow for the legalization of a portion of the undocumented and addressed the separation of immigrants from their U.S. family members. No new legal pathways for legal stature are created.
- R. 3163: The bill is called the “Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2013”. The bill addresses the enforcement of border security, employment verification, visa backlog reduction, increasing the number of STEM visas, and citizenship for undocumented immigrants, among other benefits.
- R. 435: The bill is called the “Military Enlistment Opportunity.” The bill was introduced on January 29th, 2013 and currently has 17 co-sponsors. It would let certain undocumented immigrants to obtain legal status through military enlistment and service.
- R. 714: The bill is called the “Startup Act 3.0”. This bill provided for additional green cards for immigrants in the STEM fields, and certain immigrant entrepreneurs who met certain criteria. It would also eliminate per-country quotas for employment visas.
- R. 2377: The bill is called the “Encourage New Legalized Immigrants to Start Training Act” (ENLIST Act). The bill would allow undocumented immigrants who came to America as children to become a legal citizen through military enlistment.
- R. 4178: The bill is called the “American Entrepreneurship and Investment Act”. This bill makes the EB-5 immigrant investor program permanent. It also makes program procedures easier, tightens requirements and oversight, and includes the U.S. Commerce Department in regulating the program.
- R. 4303: The bill is called the “Border Enforcement Accountability, Oversight, and Community Engagement Act of 2014”. This bill establishes an oversight committee and an ombudsman’s office to increase accountability at U.S. borders. The bill establishes an oversight committee charged with the monitoring of border patrol and enforcing and protecting human rights, among other duties.
Though some may seem like very small steps, these bills signal the immigration system is taking steps in the right direction. Immigration reform is still very much debated, but with the enactment of each new law, a change is being made and it is hoped to have a positive impact on an otherwise fractured system.