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Encyclopedia > S. 2611

Senate Bill 2611 (Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act) (abbreviated CIRA), is a United States Senate bill dealing with immigration reform. It proposes to increase security along the southern United States border with Mexico, allows long-time illegal immigrants to gain citizenship with some restrictions, and to increase the number of guest workers over and above those already present in the U.S. through a new "blue card" visa program. The sponsor of S. 2611 is Senator Arlen Specter, who introduced it on April 7, 2006. It was passed on May 25, 2006, by a vote of 62-36. Passed Senate (90% of Democrats supporting, 59% of Republicans opposing) Cloture was invoked, which limited debate to a 30 hour period. The parallel House Bill H.R. 4437 deals with immigration differently. Seal of the U.S. Senate The United States Senate is one of the two chambers of the bicameral United States Congress, the other being the House of Representatives. ... Immigration reform is the common term used in political discussions regarding changes to immigration policy. ... Illegal immigration is the act of moving to or settling in another country or region, temporarily or permanently, in violation of the law or without documents permitting an immigrant to settle in that country. ... Arlen Specter (born February 12, 1930) is a United States Senator from Pennsylvania. ... April 7 is the 97th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (98th in leap years). ... 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... May 25 is the 145th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (146th in leap years). ... 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... In parliamentary procedure, cloture (pr: KLO-cher) (also called closure, and sometimes a guillotine) is a motion or process aimed at bringing debate to a quick end. ... Seal of the House of Representatives The United States House of Representatives (or simply the House) is the lower of the two chambers of the United States Congress, the other being the Senate. ... House Resolution 4437 (The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005) was passed by the United States House of Representatives on December 16, 2005 by a vote of 239 to 182. ...



Currently there are estimated to be between 11 and 12 million illegal immigrants living within the United States.[citation needed] On December 16, 2005, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4437, which aims at improving the US-Mexican border security and increasing penalties for employers and smugglers of illegal immigrants. While most are supportive of increased border security, there have been various approaches to handle problems related to the large number of illegal immigrants already present in the country. The problems associated with illegal immigrants are unlicensed and uninsured drivers, identification theft and fraud, employment fraud, and health services fraud. December 16 is the 350th day of the year (351st in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Seal of the House of Representatives The United States House of Representatives (or simply the House) is the lower of the two chambers of the United States Congress, the other being the Senate. ... House Resolution 4437 (The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005) was passed by the United States House of Representatives on December 16, 2005 by a vote of 239 to 182. ...

The first approach to deal with this issue is to allow current illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship, after paying back taxes and a fine. Preference is given to those who have been present in the country for the longer periods of time and they must also pass the usual citizenship requirements. Critics of this approach point out that this rewards illegal behavior and can encourage greater illegal immigration into the country which would make the efforts at border security more difficult and call it essentially an amnesty that undermines the rule of law. Look up Amnesty in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The rule of law is the principle that governmental authority is legitimately exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed laws adopted and enforced in accordance with established procedure. ...

The second approach is to encourage illegal immigrants to return voluntarily to their original countries. This approach involves drying up employment opportunities for illegal immigrants by imposing stiffer fines and wider enforcement on employers of illegal immigrants. It closes loopholes that allow illegal immigrants, once detained, to stay for extended periods of time, stops the "catch and release" system, and connects local law enforcement agencies to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It also imposes harder penalties on smugglers of, and anyone aiding, illegal immigrants. Critics of this approach say that this is unduly harsh on the illegal population and usually claim that this approach could only be motivated by xenophobia. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and performs some of the functions formerly carried out by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, which was part of the Department of Justice. ... Look up xenophobia in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

See also the United States immigration debate.

To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...


The major difference between the H.R. 4437 and S. 2611 is that there is a citizenship path proposed in S. 2611. This would allow illegal immigrants who have been in the country for more than five years, estimated to be 7 million in number, to apply for citizenship by paying fines and back taxes. However, illegal aliens would be required to pay taxes for only three of the previous five years; U.S. citizens or permanent residents who tried to pay only three of the previous five years of taxes would be violating the law and subject to prosecution. Illegal aliens who have been in the country for 2 to 5 years, numbering around 3 million, would be allowed to stay in the country without fear of deportation, but after 3 years would have to leave the U.S. and could apply for citizenship at border check points. Those in the country for under 2 years would be required to return to their original nations. Thus, with some waiting, 10 million illegal immigrants can become citizens, if they so desire. The fine is around $2000, but some sources say it might be higher. Furthermore, under S.2611, illegal aliens would be forgiven their Social Security fraud, even though such fraud is normally punishable by fines of up to $500,000 and five years in prison.

S. 2611 also introduces a H-2C visa, or "blue card." This visa allows employers to bring in outside workers for up to 6 years, after which the employee must spend one year in their original country. S.2611 proposes 370 miles of fencing along highly-populated areas near the border; H.R. 4437 proposes 700 miles of fencing. S.2611 does not mention any expanded role for local law enforcement for border enforcement tasks (primarily for interior enforcement) the way that H.R. 4437 does. There is an added clause, the Inhofe Amendment, an English-only proposal that makes English the "national language" of the United States aiming at discouraging services in any other language than English. The Inhofe Amendment is an amendment to the so-called Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, a bill currently under debate in the United States Senate that would change current immigration law allowing more immigrants into the United States amounting according to the Heritage Foundation to 66-100 million in... English-only movement, called also Official English movement by its supporters, refers to a political movement for the use only of English language in public occasions through the establishing of English as the explicitly only official language in the United States. ...

The bill would also increase the annual cap for H-1B work visas from 65,000 to 115,000, with an automatic 20% increase year on year, thus increasing the number of information technology and other professionals from foreign countries eligible to work in the U.S. It also would lower the standard by which judges determine who is eligible for refugee status from "clear and convincing evidence" to "substantial evidence." The H-1B visa program allows American companies and universities to employ foreign scientists, engineers and programmers in the United States. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ...

It would allow illegal aliens to collect Social Security benefits based on past work, regardless of their ability to demonstrate what, if any, payments they had made into the system. Also, the United States federal government would have to consult with Mexican officials before commencement of any fence construction on the U.S. side of the border. Social security primarily refers to a field of social welfare concerned with social protection, or protection against socially recognized conditions, including poverty, old age, disability, unemployment, families with children and others. ...

This bill has been compared to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. The Immigration Reform and Control Act (Simpson-Mazzoli Act, IRCA, Pub. ...

Positive Reactions

In favor of the legislation, the National Immigration Forum stated The National Immigration Forum was established in 1982, dedicated to increasing public support for admitting larger numbers of immigrants and refugees into the United States. ...

Today, the U.S. Senate achieved a historic bipartisan breakthrough in the Senate in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. In stark contrast to the unworkable and punitive House bill enacted last December, the Senate bill has the right architecture and the right elements for comprehensive immigration reform. The bill would legalize an estimated 8 to 8.5 million undocumented immigrants and their families over the next 6 to 8 years...[1]

The National Council of La Raza , the nation's largest Hispanic American civil rights organization, also stated that

We have deep concerns about some of the provisions in this bill, but in the end the Senate has voted today to put millions of immigrants on a path to U.S. citizenship, and to enact the DREAM Act and AgJOBS compromise. This is a major step forward in a debate that is vital to our community and to the nation.[2]

Manhattan Institute For Policy Research The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research is an influential New York City-based free market think tank established in 1978. ...

An overwhelming majority of registered, likely Republican voters support a broad approach to immigration reform that includes providing legal status to immigrants in the country illegally, even while many of them also consider this approach "amnesty." Republican voters also are more likely to support candidates who support immigration reform that combines border and workplace enforcement with a multi-step path to legalization for undocumented immigrants who learn English, pay fines, and taxes. Significantly, an overwhelming majority feel that it is very important for the Congress to solve the problem of illegal immigration this year. [3]

Republican National Committee MEMORANDUM Bush/Cheney, 2004 campaign manager Ken Mehlman is the current chairman of the RNC. The Republican National Committee (RNC) provides national leadership for the Republican Party of the United States. ...

Public polls show that Americans want the government to solve the immigration problem. The public strongly supports a comprehensive approach. Providing a way for illegal immigrants already here to obtain legal status. Proposals to allow illegal immigrants who have been in the country for at least five years and meet other requirements (pay a fine, pay back taxes, learn English, and go to the back of the line) to apply for legal status garner wide support. Close to 80% support such a proposal in the CNN poll (5/16-5/17) and 77% in the CBS News poll (5/16-5/17), including 76% of Republicans. And according to the NBC News/WSJ poll (4/21-4/24), more than two-thirds (68%) support the Hagel-Martinez approach that passed the Senate. [4]

Florida Democratic Party also stated The Florida Democratic Party is the official organization for Democrats in the state of Florida. ...

Democrats Support Responsible, Comprehensive Immigration Reform. America's immigration system is broken, and our national and economic security is put at risk by the government's refusal to fix it. Democrats have been consistent in calling for comprehensive immigration reform that strengthens our border security, protects U.S. workers and their wages, reunites families, and allows hard working immigrants who pay taxes and obey the law the opportunity to apply for citizenship. [5]

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supports Comprehensive Immigration Reform The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (also known as the USCCB) is the official governing body of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. ...

We, the undersigned faith-based leaders and organizations, join together to call upon President Bush and our elected officials in Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation that establishes a safe and humane immigration system consistent with our values. Our diverse faith traditions teach us to welcome our brothers and sisters with love and compassion. [6]

NAFSA: Association of International Educators stated that

Comprehensive immigration reform would serve myriad important U.S. interests. Those interests must not be sacrificed to the chimera of an enforcement-first approach. We urge Congress to face up to the difficult but essential task of comprehensive reform—including provisions to facilitate access for international students and scholars—and to reject simplistic solutions. [7]

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Official Statement The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the worlds largest not-for-profit business federation, representing 3,000,000 businesses 2,800 state and local chambers 830 business associations They are staffed with policy specialists, lobbyists and lawyers. ...

The Chamber strongly believes that immigration reform must be comprehensive and balanced to meet both our security and economic needs. We support legislation that would provide a step-by-step process in which an undocumented worker could qualify for permanent legal status. [8]

The National Restaurant Association on Immigration Reform The National Restaurant Association, founded in 1919, is a restaurant industry business association in the United States. ...

The National Restaurant Association believes that immigration reform is necessary in stabilizing the nation's workforce. Like hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came before them, today's immigrants are having a substantial impact on the restaurant industry's ethnic cuisines, as well as its work force. Immigrants contribute significantly to our nation, our history and to our industry. National Restaurant Association Supports Bipartisan Action on Immigration Reform [9]

Negative Reactions

The Federation for American Immigration Reform stated that The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is an immigration reduction organization in the United States, founded in 1979 by John Tanton. ...

The Senate today passed a "comprehensive immigration reform" bill that is neither comprehensive nor in any sense a true reform. This legislation -- were it enacted into law -- throws into question the legitimacy of the entire immigration system in the United States, and its formulation exposes deep flaws in the very process how immigration laws are made in this country.[10]

The Heritage Foundation has stated that the legislation might eventually add up to 66 million more immigrants to the United States over 20 years. The Heritage Foundation is an influential public policy research institute based in Washington, D.C., in the United States. ...

If enacted, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIRA, S.2611) would be the most dramatic change in immigration law in 80 years, allowing an estimated 103 million persons to legally immigrate to the U.S. over the next 20 years—fully one-third of the current population of the United States. (This number was later revised by Heritage Foundation downward to 66 million as a result of the passed amendment by the Senate that significantly reduced the number of legal immigrants who could enter under the bill's "guest worker" program.)

This conclusion was based on the chain migration theory, whereby newly legalized immigrants can sponsor family members from their home country. [11] Chain migration refers to the mechanism by which foreign nationals are allowed to immigrate by virtue of the ability of previous immigrants to send for their adult relatives. ...

The President of the IEEE, a commenting on the increase H-1B visas stated, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers or IEEE (pronounced as eye-triple-ee) is an international non-profit, professional organization incorporated in the State of New York, United States. ...

The bill opens the spigot on numerous skilled visa categories. The question is how many high-tech workers can the United States absorb annually without driving up unemployment and driving down wages?[12]


S. 2611 sets forth border security and enforcement provisions, including provisions respecting [13]:

(1) personnel and asset increases and enhancements; (2) a National Strategy for Border Security; (3) border security initiatives, including biometric data enhancements and a biometric entry-exit system, document integrity, and mandatory detention of aliens apprehended at or between ports of entry; and (4) Central American gangs.

  • Prohibits state and local law enforcement officers from helping the federal government enforce immigration violations, which they are presently allowed to do.
  • Provides that the total number of aliens and dependents of such aliens who receive legal permanent resident status shall not exceed 18,000,000 during each 10-year period beginning with the period extending from 2007 through 2016.
  • Border Tunnel Prevention Act - Provides criminal penalties for construction, financing, or use of illegal border tunnels or passages.
  • Border Law Enforcement Relief Act of 2006 - Authorizes a border relief grant program for a tribal, state, or local law enforcement agency in a county: (1) no more than 100 miles from a U.S. border with Canada or Mexico; or (2) more than 100 miles from any such border but which is a high impact area.
  • Sets forth interior enforcement provisions, including provisions respecting: (1) alien terrorists; (2) alien street gang members; (3) illegal entry and reentry; (4) passport and immigration fraud; (5) criminal aliens; (6) voluntary departure; (7) detention and alternatives; (8) criminal penalties; (9) alien smuggling; (10) tribal lands security; (11) state and local enforcement of immigration laws; (12) expedited removal; and (13) alien protection from sex offenders.
  • Makes it unlawful to knowingly hire, recruit, or refer for a fee an unauthorized alien.
  • Establishes in the Treasury the Employer Compliance Fund.
  • Provides for additional worksite and fraud detection personnel.
  • Provides for a report examining the impacts of the current and proposed annual grants of legal status, including immigrant and nonimmigrant status, along with the current level of illegal immigration, on U.S. infrastructure and quality of life.
  • Establishes a temporary guest worker program (H-2C visa). Provides: (1) that the Secretary of Homeland Security shall determine H-2C eligibility; (2) for a three-year admission with one additional three-year extension; (3) issuance of H-4 nonimmigrant visas for accompanying or following spouse and children; (4) for U.S. worker protection; (5) for implementation of an alien employment management system; and (6) establishment of a Temporary Worker Task Force.
  • Expands the S-visa (witness/informant) classification.
  • Limits the L-visa (intracompany transfer) classification.
  • Fairness in Immigration Litigation Act of 2006 - Sets forth provisions respecting remedies for immigration legislation.
  • Sets forth backlog reduction provisions respecting: (1) family-sponsored and employment-based immigrant levels; (2) country limits; (3) immigrant visa allocations; (4) minor children; (5) shortage occupations; and (6) student and advanced degree visas.
  • Widows and Orphans Act of 2006 - Establishes a special immigrant category for certain children and women at risk of harm.
  • Immigrant Accountability Act of 2006 - Provides permanent resident status adjustment for a qualifying illegal alien (and the spouse and children of such alien) who has been in the United States for five years and employed (with exceptions) for specified periods of time.
  • Authorizes mandatory departure and immigrant or nonimmigrant reentry for a qualifying illegal alien who has been present and employed in the United States since January 7, 2004. Establishes a three-year mandatory departure status, and sets forth immigration prohibitions and penalties for failure to depart or delayed departure. Subjects the spouse or children of a principal alien to the same conditions as such alien, except that if such alien meets the departure requirement the spouse and children will be deemed to have done so.
  • Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits, and Security Act of 2006, or AgJOBS Act of 2006 - Establishes a pilot program (Blue Card program) for adjustment to permanent resident status of qualifying agricultural workers who have worked in the United States during the two-year period ending December 31, 2005, and have been employed for specified periods of time subsequent to enactment of this Act.
  • Revises the H-2A visa (temporary agricultural worker) program.
  • Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2006 or the DREAM Act of 2006 - Eliminates denial of an unlawful alien's eligibility for higher education benefits based on state residence unless a U.S. national is similarly eligible without regard to such state residence. Authorizes cancellation of removal and adjustment to conditional permanent resident status of certain alien students who are long-term U.S. residents.
  • Sets forth provisions respecting: (1) additional Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice immigration personnel; and (2) the Board of Immigration Appeals.
  • Kendell Frederick Citizenship Assistance Act - Provides that fingerprints provided by a qualifying individual at the time of military enlistment shall satisfy naturalization fingerprint requirements. Requires the Secretary of Defense to establish the position of Citizenship Advocate at each military entry processing station.
  • State Court Interpreter Grant Program Act - Provides state courts grants to assist individuals with limited English proficiency to access and understand court proceedings, and allocates funds for a related court interpreter technical assistance program.
  • Border Infrastructure and Technology Modernization Act - Provides for: (1) a port of entry infrastructure assessment study; (2) a national land border security plan; and (3) a port of entry technology demonstration program.
  • September 11 Family Humanitarian Relief and Patriotism Act - Provides permanent resident status adjustment or cancellation of removal and permanent resident status adjustment for a qualifying alien who was on September 10, 2001, the wife, child, or dependent son or daughter of a lawful nonimmigrant alien who died as a result of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States.

Sets forth provisions respecting: (1) noncitizen Armed Forces membership; (2) nonimmigrant status for athletes; (3) extension of returning worker exemption; (4) surveillance programs, including aerial and unmanned aerial surveillance; (5) a Northern Border Prosecution Initiative; (6) reimbursement of Southern Border State and county prosecutors for prosecuting federally initiated drug cases; (7) conditional nonimmigrant worker-related grants; (8) border security on federal land; and (9) parole and status adjustment relief for qualifying widows and orphans.

See also

House Resolution 4437 (The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005) was passed by the United States House of Representatives on December 16, 2005 by a vote of 239 to 182. ... S. 2691/ H. R. 5744, also known as the “Securing Knowledge Innovation and Leadership Act of 2006”, or the “SKIL Bill” from its acronym and rhyme, is targeted at increasing legal immigration of scientific, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workers into the United States by increasing the quotas on the...


  1. ^ Statement from National Immigration Forum
  2. ^ Statement from NCLR
  3. ^ Statement from MIFPR
  4. ^ Statement from RNC
  5. ^ Statement from FDP
  6. ^ Statement from USCCB
  7. ^ Statement from NAFSA
  8. ^ Statement from USCC
  9. ^ Statement from NRA
  10. ^ Statement from FAIR
  11. ^ Statement from The Heritage Foundation
  12. ^ Statement from IEEE
  13. ^ [1]

External links

  • Library of Congress Information Page on S. 2611
  • Library of Congress Bill Summary and Status Page on S. 2611
  • WashingtonWatch.com page on S. 2611

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s109-2611 vote stats



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