Congress and Immigration

Congress and Immigration

Immigrants to the United States need to understand the relationship between Congress and Immigration laws.

The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States of America, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Both senators and representatives are chosen through direct election. Each of the 435 members of the House of Representatives represents a district and serves a two-year term. House seats are apportioned among the states by population. The 100 Senators serve staggered six-year terms. Each state has two senators, regardless of population. Every two years, approximately one-third of the Senate is elected at a time.

Lately, the two houses of Congress have not been able to agree on immigration reform legislation. The Senate passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013. However, the House of Representatives refused to do so in 2013 and again in 2014.

Our web site enables you to find the text of immigration laws, pending immigration legislation, and to write to your Members of Congress.

 

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The following immigration bills were introduced in Congress in 2019:

H.R. 5327: Resolving Extended Limbo for Immigrant Employees and Families (RELIEF) Act

On December 5, 2019, Representative Donna Shalala (D-FL) introduced the House companion version of the Resolving Extended Limbo for Immigrant Employees and Families Act or the RELIEF Act, which would eliminate the family- and employment-based green card backlog within five years.

H.R. 5038: Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019

On 11/12/19, Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), introduced the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 (H.R.5038) to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for terms and conditions for nonimmigrant workers performing agricultural labor or services.

H.R. 4803: Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act

On 10/23/19, Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Doug Collins (R-GA) introduced the Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act to ensure children born abroad to Federal Government personnel residing abroad acquire automatic U.S. citizenship.

S. 2603, Resolving Extended Limbo for Immigrant Employees and Families (RELIEF) Act

Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) introduced S. 2603, RELIEF Act, which would eliminate the per-country numerical limitation for employment-based immigrants and eliminate the family– and employment-based green card backlog over five years, among other things.

S.J.Res. 55: Immigrant Investor Program Modernization

On 9/24/19, Senator Paul Rand (R-KY) introduced S.J.Res. 55, a joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval of the Immigrant Investor Program Modernization rule (84 FR 35750, 7/24/19).

S. 2540: EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2019

On 9/24/19, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2019 to reauthorize the EB-5 Regional Center Program in order to “prevent fraud and promote and reform foreign capital investment and job creation in American communities.”

S.J.Res. 54: Relating to a National Emergency

On 9/10/19, Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced S.J.Res.54, a joint resolution that would terminate the national emergency declared by President Trump on February 15, 2019.

S. 2091: Backlog Elimination, Legal Immigration, and Employment Visa Enhancement (BELIEVE) Act

On 7/11/19, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the Backlog Elimination, Legal Immigration, and Employment Visa Enhancement Act (S. 2091), which would eliminate the per-country limit for employment-based immigrants and increase the number of green cards available each year, among other things.

H.R. 3524: Northern Triangle and Border Stabilization Act

On 6/27/19, Representative Zoe Lofgren introduced a bill that seeks to address root causes of the refugee crisis at the border.

S. 1900: Making Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2019, and for Other Purposes

On 6/19/19, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) introduced S.1900, making emergency supplemental appropriations for FY2019. On 6/27/19, the House passed S. 1900, by a vote of 305-102. The bill is now expected to go to the White House for final signature and approval.

H.R. 3401: Making Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2019, and For Other Purposes

On 6/26/19, Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), introduced H.R. 3401 making emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending in September 30, 2019.

H.R. 3222: No Federal Funds for Public Charge Act of 2019

On 6/12/19, Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) introduced the No Federal Funds for Public Charge Act of 2019 (H.R. 3222) to prohibit the use of federal funds to implement, administer, or enforce the proposed rule on inadmissibility on public charge grounds.

H.R. 3033: H-4 Employment Protection Act of 2019

On 5/28/19, Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA), introduced the H-4 Employment Protection Act of 2019 (H.R. 3033) to allow certain H-4 dependent spouses to apply for employment authorization.

H.___ : FY2020 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill

On 5/16/19, Representative Jose Serrano (D-NY) introduced a house bill with appropriations for Department of Commerce and Justice Science, and Related Agencies, including EOIR, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020, and for other purposes.

S. 1494: Secure and Protect Act of 2019

On 5/15/19, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), introduced S. 1494. The bill would make the Flores Settlement Agreement that sets the current standards of detention of migrant children inapplicable and require asylum seekers to apply at processing centers in Central America and Mexico.

S. 1103: Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act

On 4/10/19, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), introduced S. 1103 to establish a skill-based immigration points system, to focus family-sponsored immigration on spouses and minor children, eliminate the Diversity Visa Program, and limit the number of asylum seekers admitted to the United States.

H.R. 6: American Dream and Promise Act of 2019

On March 12, 2019, Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced H.R. 6 to allow Dreamers, TPS recipients, and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients to apply for permanent legal status. On June 4, 2019, H.R. 6 passed the House of Representatives by a recorded vote of 237 – 187.

S.___: Immigration Court Improvement Act of 2019

On 3/6/19, Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), along with Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), announced the Immigration Court Improvement Act of 2019, would help insulate immigration judges from political interference or manipulation.

S.___: Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2019

On 3/6/19, Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), along with Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), announced the Fair Day in Courts for Kids Act of 2019, which would provide legal representation for unaccompanied immigrant children during removal proceedings.

H.J.Res. 46: Relating to a National Emergency Declared by the President on February 15, 2019

On 2/22/19, Representative Joaquin Castro (D-TX) introduced H.J.Res. 46 that would block the President’s emergency declaration on the southern border. On 2/26/19, the House passed the resolution and on 3/14/19, the Senate passed H.J.Res. 46. The president signed his first veto on 3/15/19.

S. 386: Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019

On 9/18/19, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) proposed a substitute amendment to S. 386, Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, by amending the version passed by the House (H.R. 1044). A vote on this amendment will likely occur on the Senate floor on 9/19/19.

H.R. 1044: Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019

On 7/10/19, the House passed H.R. 1044 by a vote of 365 to 65. If enacted, the bill would eliminate the per-country numerical limitation for employment-based immigrants and increase the per-country numerical limitation for family-sponsored immigrants, among other things.

S. 326: Restrictions Against Illegitimate Declarations for Emergency Re-appropriations (RAIDER) Act of 2019

On 2/4/19, Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced the RAIDER Act of 2019, which prevents the president from utilizing the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to use critical military construction and disaster response funds to construct his wall along the southern border.

S. Amdt. 5: End the Shutdown and Secure the Border Act

On 1/21/19, Senate Republicans introduced a bill to end the partial shutdown by funding the Wall, more detention beds, and additional border patrol and ICE agents, while providing limited protection for Dreamers and TPS-holders, and banning Central American minors from seeking asylum at the border.

H.R.590: Freedom of Religion Act of 2019

On 1/16/19, Representative Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (D-VA) introduced the Freedom of Religion Act of 2019 (H.R. 395) to amend the INA to prohibit denying admission or entry to the United States, or other immigration benefits, because of religion.

CONGRESS and IMMIGRATION

SENATE

US Senate

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

House of Representatives

PRACTICE ADVISORIES REGARDING CONGRESS

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