After securing many much-needed improvements to the legislation, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a current member and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and current Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, today voted to advance S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, out of the Judiciary Committee and on to the Senate Floor. The bill will now be able to be amended in ways outside of the Judiciary Committee's jurisdiction, and Hatch has pledged to push several amendments that will increase taxpayer protections from what is in the bill when the Senate considers the measure next month.
"I said when the immigration bill was first introduced that it needed improvement to get to a point where I could support it, and I'm pleased we were able to do that by further strengthening border security and ensuring we can remain competitive in a global economy," Hatch said. "But this bill needs more improvement before I'm ready to vote for it when the full Senate takes it up. I introduced a number of common-sense amendments that ensure American taxpayers aren't on the hook for those wanting to become American citizens. It's my hope we can add these amendments to what passes the Judiciary Committee today, and come up with a bill that myself, many of my colleagues, and the American people can support."
Hatch was successful in including a number of provisions in the bill, including the following:
-H1B visas -- Hatch successfully added a number of amendments that focused on areas vital to ensuring the United States can maintain its competitiveness in the global economy.
-Marijuana growing on public lands -- An amendment Hatch introduced to establish the aggravated penalty of cultivating marijuana on federal lands and mandates that it be served consecutively to any term of imprisonment for the underlying offense of manufacturing and distribution of a controlled substance (21 USC 841).
-Biometric exit data -- An amendment Hatch introduced to establish, within two years of enactment, a mandatory biometric exit data system in the 10 U.S. Core 30 airports that support the highest volume of international air travel.
-Amerasian Homecoming Act -- An amendment Hatch introduced to terminate the Amerasian Homecoming Act visa program, which is wrought with fraud.
Hatch also supported a number of his colleagues' efforts to improve the bill, including amendments put forward by Sens, John Cornyn (R-Texas), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to strengthen border security.