1. Border Security
- Increases spending by roughly $40 billion over the next decade to bolster border security, adding 20,000 new Border Patrol agents and 700 miles of fencing along the southern border. After border security goals are met, undocumented immigrants could begin the path to citizenship.
- Creates an exit system to confirm the departure of foreigners at airports and seaports.
A statement of principles written by House Republican leadership and being circulated at a party retreat this week mentions that some kind of border security triggers must be included in an immigration overhaul, according to aides who have seen the document.
In May, the House Homeland Security Committee passed a bipartisan bill that requires the Department of Homeland Security to draft a plan within five years to achieve a 90 percent apprehension rate of those who attempt to cross the southern border illegally.
A comprehensive immigration bill unveiled by House Democrats last month also includes this legislation.
- Includes a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants that would take a minimum of 13 years.
- After passing background checks and paying fees and back taxes, immigrants could gain provisional legal status. After 10 years, and only when the current backlog of visa applications is cleared, formerly illegal immigrants could apply for green cards. After three years with green cards, those immigrants could apply for citizenship.
- A faster track would be available for young illegal immigrants who came here as children and for agricultural workers.
The Republican leadership's statement of principles is reported to call for a path to legal status (but not citizenship) for many of the 11 million adult immigrants in the country illegally and a path to citizenship for young immigrants who came here as children.
3. Legal Immigration
- Makes more family and employment-based visas available to reduce the current backlog.
- Creates a new merit-based point system for future immigration, based on education, current employment, job skills and family ties. The system would shift the priority over time from family-based immigration to grant about half of all visas each year based on job skills.
- Allows immediate immigration for spouses and children of green card holders.
- Eliminates the diversity visa lottery and the current green card category for siblings of citizens, and requires that married sons and daughters of citizens seeking green cards be under 31 years old.
House Republicans also favor a merit-based system, but no bills have been passed.
4. Interior Enforcement
Within five years, would require all employers to use a federal electronic verification system to determine that all newly hired employees, including American citizens, are authorized to work.
In June, the House Judiciary Committee approved a measure that also creates an E-Verify system, which would be phased in over two years.
Another approved bill allows states and localities to enact and enforce immigration laws, provided they are consistent with federal laws; makes unlawful presence in the country a criminal offense (just as illegal entry is); and strengthens the ability of federal immigration agents to make arrests for violations and allows them to carry firearms.
5. Temporary Visas
- Increases limits for temporary high-skilled H-1B visas to 115,000, rising to a maximum of 180,000, from the current 65,000 per year.
- Creates a new temporary “W” visa for low-skilled workers, offering 20,000 visas in the first year, increasing to 75,000 annually and possibly higher, based on the labor market.
- Creates a separate W visa program for agricultural guest workers.
- Creates a new three-year visa for entrepreneurs who start companies in the United States.
A bill approved by the House Judiciary Committee in June creates a temporary agricultural guest-worker program, making it easier for farmers and other employers to hire immigrants for those jobs. It uses a market-driven approach, paying workers the higher of either the market’s prevailing wage or the state minimum wage.
Another approved bill provides green cards to foreign graduates of U.S. universities in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math, and raises the cap on high-skilled H-1B visas.