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H.R. 3012 – Committee Markup Today

October 27, 2011

Today the House Judiciary Committee considered markup of H.R. 3012 – the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act.

In his opening statement, the Chairman of the committee, said

This legislation makes sense. Why should American employers who seek green cards for skilled foreign workers have to wait longer just because the workers are from India or China?

American business employers have already proven to the U.S. government that they need these workers, that qualified Americans are not available and that American workers will not be harmed.

It makes sense to repeal the employment-based per-country caps.

I also understand that many Members would like to increase the family-sponsored green card per-country caps from 7% to 15%. This bill does that too. I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 3012.

The discussion of the bill was notable for its lack of rancor between Republican and Democratic members of the committee. This is in contrast to yesterday’s oversight hearing on the Department of Homeland Security with Secretary Janet Napolitano. The majority of questions directed to Secretary Napolitano involved immigration and border security. Many members of the Judiciary Committee were highly criticial of the Department’s and the Obama Administration’s policies in these areas. Several members suggested that the Obama Administration was attempting to circumvent Congress by administrative agency policy.

Today’s consideration of H.R. 3012 was remarkably speedy by Congressional standards and probably relates to the fact that the bill is narrowly-tailored. H.R. 3012 is simply limited, as its sponsor Rep. Chaffetz indicated, to a removal of per-country caps in the employment-based and family-based categories. As such, five amendments offered on the bill were ruled by the Chair as “non-germane,” including two proposed by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (Democrat, CA) and three proposed by Rep. Steve King (Republican, IA). As Rep. Chaffetz indicated, “the bill does not confer any additional immigration benefits.” In addition, the bill neither increases nor decreases the total number of permanent resident visas (“green cards”) issued.

One amendment offered by Rep. Lofgren was quickly passed by the committee and relates to the 3-year transition period during which the elimination of the per-country caps are set to be phased in. The amendment leaves the 1st preference category “as is” and only imposes the transition period on the 2nd and 3rd preference categories. After a final amendment to the bill offered by Rep. King was voted down, H.R. 3012 was brought up for a final vote to report the bill favorably, as amended, to the entire House. The bill was quickly approved by voice vote.

Having been reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee, H.R. 3012 now travels back to the House, as a whole, for consideration.




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