Immigration Proposals

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There are some major immigration proposals in Congress right now. The Associated Press has compiled highlights of a few.

Senate Judiciary Committee's bill:
-- Allows illegal immigrants who were in the United States
before 2004 to continuing working legally for six years if they pay
a $1,000 fine and clear a criminal background check. They would
become eligible for permanent residence upon paying another
one-thousand-dollar fine, any back taxes and having learned
-- New immigrants would have to have temporary work visas. They
also could earn legal permanent residence after six years.
-- Adds up to 14-thousand new Border Patrol agents by 2011 to
the current force of eleven-thousand-300 agents.
-- Authorizes a "virtual wall" of unmanned vehicles, cameras
and sensors to monitor the U-S-Mexico border.
-- Creates a special guest worker program for an estimated 1.5
million immigrant farm workers, who can also earn legal permanent
-- Allows illegal immigrant students with high school diplomas
or G-E-D, no criminal record and meet other criteria to enroll in
college or university or enlist in the military. Permits state
schools to charge such students in-state tuition.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's proposal:
-- Requires all employers to verify the identity and immigration
status of their employees through an electronic system.
-- Assesses civil penalties of between 500 dollars and
20-thousand dollars against employers for each illegal immigrant
they hire and criminal penalties of up to 20-thousand dollars per
illegal immigrant hired and up to six months in jail for engaging
in a pattern of employing illegal workers.
-- More than doubles the number of employment-based green cards,
from 140-thousand to 290-thousand, and makes more employment based
visas available to unskilled workers. It also would free up other
visas by exempting immediate relatives of U.S. citizens from being
counted in the annual pool of 480,000 visas, and increase
country-by-country ceilings on family sponsored and
employment-based immigrants.
-- Cancels visas of immigrants who have overstayed their visas
and requires them to return to their home country to undergo
additional screening at U-S consulates.
-- Makes it a misdemeanor crime for an immigrant to be in the
country illegally.
-- Increases the number of visas available for high-tech
-- Does not address President Bush's proposal for a guest worker

House bill passed in December:
-- Requires all employers to use within six years a database to
verify Social Security numbers of employees or face civil or
criminal penalties for hiring illegal workers.
-- Requires mandatory detention for all non-Mexican illegal
immigrants arrested at ports of entry or at land and sea borders.
-- Establishes mandatory sentences for smuggling illegal
immigrants and for re-entering the United States illegally after
-- Makes illegal presence in the country a felony.
-- Makes a drunken driving conviction a deportable offense.
-- Requires building two-layer fences along 700 miles of the
two-thousand-mile border between Mexico and the United States.
-- Does not address President Bush's proposed guest worker
program for illegal immigrants already in the United States.