The Hill article The House is taking steps to address a backlog of thousands of illegal immigrants who were caught entering the country illegally and being deported without being charged.
The House on Tuesday voted on legislation that would give states the option to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for a work permit if they are not in the country on a work or study visa.
The bill, which passed the House, would allow immigrants who entered the country legally to apply to the Labor Department for a temporary work permit, while they wait for an answer from a federal immigration judge.
The proposal also would allow for undocumented immigrants who are still in the United States to apply through a non-profit organization, similar to a temporary worker visa program.
“These families should be reunited with their families, but our focus must be on the millions of people who are illegally in this country, the thousands who are awaiting deportation,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the bill’s sponsor.
Cole said the bill would help address the backlog of illegal immigration, but it was unclear if the legislation would be passed in time for President Donald Trump to sign it.
The legislation would require the Labor department to review applications submitted by immigrants who do not have work or school visas and to determine whether an applicant is inadmissible.
It would also require the secretary of homeland security to conduct a review of each application.
The Labor Department would also be required to review the applications of immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least three years, have received a green card, or have obtained permission from a judge to remain in the US.
If the Labor secretary finds that an immigrant is in violation of the visa requirement, the department would determine whether to revoke the visa and deport the immigrant.
The measure also would expand the definition of “illegal immigrant” to include individuals who have a criminal record or who are inadmitted to the U, D or E classes, among other categories.
A spokesperson for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Republicans in the House on Monday voted to advance the House version of the bill, but Democrats voted against it.
A majority of House Democrats backed the House GOP proposal.
Democrats have been pressing the administration to take more aggressive action to deport undocumented immigrants in the wake of the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown.
Democrats also want to allow the Department of Homeland Security to work with state and local governments to prioritize removal efforts and make them more transparent.
The Obama administration in February started deporting nearly 300,000 illegal immigrants without charging them with crimes, including those who entered illegally, in an effort to stop the flow of new arrivals into the country.
At least 11 states, including New York and California, have passed bills allowing undocumented immigrants the option of a work visa.