Bold Immigration Proposal in the U.S. Senate

Eliza Grinberg's picture

I recently received an email from the Immigrant's List about an interesting new piece of immigration legislation being considered by the U.S. Senate. The legislation is being supported by Immigrant's List founding board member Ira J. Kurzban, one of the preeminent scholars of U.S. immigration law.

Introduced by Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) on October 16, 2019, Senate Bill 2603 (RELIEF Act) would make several important changes to immigration law. According to the email from Immigrant's List, it would, among other things:

End the green card backlog for family-sponsored and employment-based petitions over the course of five years;
Classify spouses and children of lawful permanent residents as immediate relatives;
Exempt derivative beneficiaries of employment-based preference petitions from annual visa number limits;
Protect “aging out” children who qualify for permanent resident status based on a parent's petition; and
Lift per-country visa number caps.

Senate Bill 2603 follows HR 1044, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. That legislation focused on using all available visas in the skilled worker categories over the next decade to ameliorate the backlog of applicants from India. Ira Kurzban opposed HR 1044 as it stood in an op-ed linked to from the Immigrant's List website [link]. Senate Bill 2603, which goes quite a bit further and would benefit a wider swath of prospective immigrants than HR 1044, made enough changes to earn his support.

Regardless of the merits, Senate Bill 2603 faces uncertain prospects in Congress, and it is unclear whether President Donald Trump would be open to signing it even if it passed through Congress. Senator Durbin asked for unanimous consent to pass Senate Bill 2603 on October 16, 2019, but his bid failed when Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) objected.1 Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is sponsoring Senate Bill 386, parallel legislation to HR 1044 focusing on the backlog of Indian employment-based applications. While Kurzban and Immigrant's List opposed Senate Bill 386, they were amenable to legislation proposed by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) to raise the number of available employment-based visas and give limited priority to healthcare workers in rural areas [link]. You may read Senator Paul's proposal, “the BELIEVE Act,” here [PDF version].

We will update the website with more information on important immigration legislation as it becomes available.

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  1. Vaughan, M. Jessica. “Senate Action on Big Tech Green Card Bill S.366/S.2603.” Center for Immigration Studies. Oct. 17, 2019.
Bold Immigration Proposal in the U.S. Senate