U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and cosponsor of the DREAM Act and seven additional bills that would modernize the nation's immigration system, praised the Senate's passage of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, a comprehensive immigration reform bill that makes important strides toward repairing America's broken immigration system. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 68 to 32.
"For a nation built by immigrants and the children of immigrants, this is an historic moment," Senator Coons said. "For too long, America's immigration system has fallen short of our shared values, failing to protect the basic rights of those seeking a fair opportunity to build a life here and contribute to our economy. The bill passed today will make our immigration system fairer and more humane. It will provide new opportunities for American-educated immigrants to pursue their ideas and innovations in the U.S. It will make extraordinary investments in the security of our borders. It is a balanced, bipartisan bill that will mean a more hopeful future for the next generation of Americans. I urge my colleagues in the House to take up this bill and seize this historic opportunity to build a modern immigration system that reflects America's values and makes our country stronger."
The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act establishes a fair, earned pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already contributing to our country. The bill expedites immigration processes to clear backlogs, unite families, and reduce costly and unnecessary detention. It also reduces arbitrary requirements in the U.S. employment-based visa system and permanently authorizes programs, such as EB-5 and the new INVEST visa, which create American jobs through targeted investment of foreign capital.
Importantly, this bill will enable the U.S. to maintain its position of world-leading innovation by continuing to welcome the best and brightest scientists and engineers to our shores. An amendment proposed by Senator Coons and included in the Senate-passed bill will also create a STEM education and training fund to improve the science, technology, engineering, and math education of American children in schools across the country.
Eight other amendments proposed by Senator Coons were also incorporated in the final version of the bill. These include provisions to help protect the identity of individuals using E-Verify; end the dangerous practice of repatriating undocumented immigrants in the middle of the night; help the families of government employees killed abroad qualify for Special Immigrant Visas; streamline discovery procedures in immigration court; to require immigration officials to maintain and report information on immigrants in removal proceedings; ensure that legitimate asylum applicants receive timely work authorization; provide nondiscriminatory access to professional, commercial, and business licenses to qualified applicants; expand the Torture Victim Protection Act to include immigrants guilty of war crimes and genocide; limit the ability of immigration officials to target schools, hospitals, and places of worship for enforcement raids; and expedite the path to citizenship for combat veterans.