• Senators Schumer and Graham Release Immigration Reform Framework
  • April 1, 2010
  • Law Firm: Jackson Lewis LLP - White Plains Office
  • Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC) have outlined their vision and framework for immigration reform, proposing the use of biometric identifiers for better verification of employment authorization and expressing concern for the burden placed on employers under current law.  The Senators, in a statement issued on March 18, 2010, acknowledged, “Our immigration system is badly broken. Although our borders have become far more secure in recent years, too many people seeking illegal entry get through. We have no way to track whether the millions who enter the United States on valid visas each year leave when they are supposed to. And employers are burdened by a complicated system for verifying workers' immigration status.”

    “Four Pillars”

    The Schumer-Graham outline for reform is based on four pillars:

    1. Implementation of an effective employment verification system that holds employers accountable for hiring illegal workers.  All U.S. citizens and legal immigrants who want to work in the U.S. would be required to obtain a high-tech, fraud-proof biometric Social Security card.  Each card's unique biometric identifier would be stored only on the card -- no government database would house everyone's information. The cards would not contain any private information, medical information or tracking devices.  Prospective employers would be responsible for swiping the cards through a machine to confirm a person's identity and immigration status. Employers who refused to swipe the card or who otherwise knowingly hired unauthorized workers would face stiff fines and, for repeat offenses, prison sentences.

    2. An increase in border security and interior enforcement.  This would be aimed at expanding domestic enforcement to better apprehend and deport criminals and establishing an entry-exit system.

    3. Creation of a rational process for admitting temporary workers which would allow U.S. employers to hire foreign workers if employers can demonstrate that they cannot find qualified U.S. workers to do the job.

    4. Implementation of a tough but fair path to legalization for the approximately 11 million undocumented aliens currently in the U.S.  They would be required to admit to immigration violations and to pay their debt to society by performing community service and paying fines and back taxes. These individuals would be required to pass background checks and be proficient in English before going to the end of the line of prospective immigrants to earn the opportunity to work toward lawful permanent residence.

    Other Factors

    The Schumer-Graham outline also includes:

    1. Giving legal permanent residence to immigrants who graduate with advanced degrees from U.S. universities.  The plan would award green cards to foreign students who receive a Ph.D. or master's degree in science, technology, engineering or math from a U.S. university.

    2. Zero tolerance for illegal immigrants who commit crimes and expand enforcement of immigration laws.

    White House Response

    The White House praised the Schumer-Graham framework.  The President stated that he was “...pleased to see that Senators Schumer and Graham have produced a promising, bipartisan framework which can and should be the basis for moving forward.  It thoughtfully addresses the need to shore up our borders, and demands accountability from both workers who are here illegally and employers who game the system.”  The White House indicated its commitment to work with Congress to forge a bipartisan consensus this year “...so we can continue to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform.”