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Immigration reform bill gets tweaks from Senate committee

As we have been writing about extensively, the United States Senate has introduced a wide-sweeping immigration reform bill that would greatly alter the country's immigration laws. In addition to providing a path to citizenship for many of the millions of immigrants currently in the country illegally, the bill also proposes beefing-up border security.

Recently, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an amendment to the bill aimed at strengthening border security even further by requiring the nation's 10 busiest airports to install high-tech devices that would check immigrants' fingerprints as they leave and enter the country. The devices would have to be installed within two years of the legislation becoming law.

Currently, there is a system for keeping track of how man immigrants are entering and re-entering the country, but there is no way of tracking the number of immigrants who are leaving. The Republican Senator who introduced the amendment said that the goa is to have "records we can keep so we know where we are going." Proponents of the amendment said it would also better-track people who are believed to pose a threat to the United States.

In addition to adding the amendment, the Senate Judiciary Committee also decided not to approve several changes to the bill that would limit certain immigrants' rights to federal programs including food and medical assistance. The Committee also approved a measure that better-protects young children of immigrants who are being deported.

The Senate Committee reportedly hopes to have a final draft of the bill ready for a vote by the middle of the week. The bill currently stands close 900-pages long, so there are many other provisions to the bill as well. Included is a new visa system that would allow farmers, high-tech firms and other businesses better access to both low- and high-skilled immigrant workers.

Source: Reuters, "U.S. panel votes to speed up airport fingerprinting of immigrants," Richard Cowan, May 20, 2013

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