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House social spending bill’s immigration provisions ‘historic’

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Becka Bowyer

The House of Representatives passed a $1.9 trillion social spending bill on November 19th. 

Stephen Yale-Loehr

Professor of Immigration Law

Stephen Yale-Loehr, professor of immigration law at Cornell Law School and co-author of a leading 21-volume immigration law series, says the House bill’s immigration provisions – while more limited than originally proposed – would still be the most significant immigration legislation in decades.

Yale-Loehr says: 

“The 2,135-page bill includes a number of significant immigration provisions, including up to 10 years of work authorization and deportation protection for undocumented people living in the U.S. The bill would also give the Department of Homeland Security $2.8 billion to help process immigration applications and reduce case processing backlogs. The bill would also recapture unused employment-based and family-based green cards that would otherwise expire at the end of each year.

“The House bill used the budget reconciliation process, which allows passage of legislation with simple majorities in both chambers, though provisions must meet certain budget requirements. To that end, the House bill would raise money by imposing fees on various immigration petitions. For example, immigrant investors would have to pay an additional $15,000. Students applying to work after graduation would have to pay an additional $500. House lawmakers hope that these provisions will pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian, who has rejected more expansive immigration provisions twice before.

“The bill now goes to the Senate, which may make some changes. If enacted as is, the House bill would not offer a path toward legalization for the estimated 10 million noncitizens who lack immigration status. However, if enacted, the House bill’s immigration provisions would still constitute the most significant immigration changes in decades and would provide a start to fixing our broken immigration system.”

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