House Democrats recently revealed their own immigration reform bill last month. Although the bill is similar to the bipartisan one passed in June by the Senate, one main difference is that it would set specific goals for border enforcement rather than require billions of dollars to build 700 miles of new border fence and $30 billion to double the number of border agents. The bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to create a comprehensive plan of how to catch and detain people who illegally cross the border. Before it could receive any funding, Congress would have to review and approve the plan.
The House bill has a lot of similarities to the Senate’s version.
Both include a pathway to citizenship for the 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. right now. For instance, both bills would give 6.3 million people “registered provisional immigrant” status once they have paid a $1,000 fine and other fees. Immigrants with this status would be able to stay and work in the U.S. However, they would not receive any federal benefits. Registered provisional immigrants could apply to become permanent residents after ten years.
The House bill would also allow an extra 1.4 million immigrants who are presently unauthorized farm workers to apply for special “blue cards” that would allow them to remain in the U.S. and continue working. These immigrants could apply to become permanent residents after 5 years.
Both bills would also require employers to start using a new version of E-Verify, which is an electronic system used to determine the legal status of current and potential employees. Non-citizen employees would be required to present “work authorization cards” or green cards
Support for the House bill has increased. Three House Republicans have recently co-sponsored the bill. This is crucial because 186 Democrats have co-sponsored the bill, but 218 votes are required in order for the bill to pass in the House.