The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would remove the 7% per-country cap on employment-based green cards. The “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act,” H.R. 1044, passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 365-65.
Background: The sponsor of the House bill, Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, who has introduced the measure repeatedly since 2011, said after the vote that the bill would “provide relief to individuals who’ve waited patiently for a green card for years, if not decades, while they continue to work and contribute to our economy.”
Prospects in the Senate are uncertain. Last week, the Senate bill appeared headed for a vote after Mike Lee, R-Utah, reached a compromise with Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who had initially opposed the bill, by adding an amendment that would give the Labor Department new enforcement measures against H-1B employers. The bill was blocked, however, by Rand Paul, R-Ky., over an amendment he proposed that would create an exemption for foreign nurses.
BAL Analysis: The House vote is a promising sign of support for easing the green card backlog. The measure was able to gain bipartisan support in part because it would not increase overall green card numbers but would merely shift allocation of current immigrant visas. It is unclear, however, whether the Senate will debate or pass the measure and, if it does, whether President Donald Trump will sign it.
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