Congress Examines Foreign Investment, Verification, Real ID Issues At Recent Hearings
The Senate and House recently held hearings on various employment-based immigration issues:
- The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on July 22, 2009, “Promoting Job Creation and Foreign Investment in the United States: An Assessment of the EB-5 Regional Center Program.” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) noted in his opening statement that the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program is set to expire at the end of September, and that making the program permanent “is a critical first step to its continuing success.” Sen. Leahy noted that the program “has been responsible for the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars, and the creation of tens of thousands of jobs in American communities since 1993. The program has paved the way for ski resort expansion in Vermont, dairy operations in Iowa, energy development in Oklahoma and Texas, and the manufacture of hurricane-resistant housing in Alabama. These are just a few examples of projects financed by foreign investment through the Regional Center program, and all indications are that interest in the program is growing.” Witnesses at the hearing included Michael Dougherty, Robert Kruszka, Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers member Stephen Yale-Loehr, William Stenger, and Ron Drinkard.
- The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on July 20, 2009, “Time Change – Ensuring a Legal Workforce: What Changes Should Be Made To Our Current Employment Verification System?” Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) said in his opening statement that he is concerned about recent efforts to make E-Verify mandatory and to expand its use to federal contractors “without first fixing the current problems with the system.” He noted that according to a 2006 report by the Social Security Administration’s Inspector General, “the data set on which E-Verify relied contains errors in 17.8 million records, affecting 12.7 million U.S. citizens. If E-Verify becomes mandatory before these errors are fixed, millions of Americans could be misidentified as unauthorized to work.” Witnesses at the hearing included Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Michael Aytes, James Ziglar, and Lynden Melmed.
- The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a hearing on July 15, 2009, “Identification Security: Reevaluating the Real ID Act.” Witnesses at the hearing included Janet Napolitano, Jim Douglas, Stewart Baker, Leroy Baca, David Quam, and Ari Schwartz.
- The House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on July 23, 2009, “E-Verify: Challenges and Opportunities.” Witnesses at the hearing included Angelo Amador, David Rust, Gerri Ratliff, and Jena Baker McNeill.