Moving to quell concerns, the newest version of the Senate's immigration bill keeps the E-Verify electronic check system in place so that states that already require its use can continue to do so, even while the rest of the country is getting up to speed.
The bipartisan negotiators who wrote the Senate bill submitted an 867-page new version to their colleagues on Tuesday, in preparation for beginning to vote next week in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Backers have been facing a barrage of criticism from senators and interest groups that want to see a crackdown on illegal immigration, and had vowed to make any reasonable changes they could.
The E-Verify language is one of those.
The bill says that the Homeland Security secretary "shall continue to operate the E-Verify Program … as in effect the minute before the date of the enactment of this Act, until the transition" to the new employment verification system the bill calls for.
A handful of states already require all businesses to use E-Verify, and some critics had said the bill repealed the system immediately but didn't replace it for several years, leaving a gap that unscrupulous businesses could exploit.
Backers said they didn't change any major policies, but wanted to clear up what they said were misconceptions about their intentions.
The new version tweaks many of the fees and fines in the bill, and also specifically directs that money collected from those will be used first to repay the federal treasury for the $7.5 billion that will be spent on border security enhancements.
Lawmakers also tightened up prohibitions on drunk drivers, so that those convicted of three drunk-driving charges are deemed inadmissible regardless of when the charges happened. Under the previous version, immigrants had their slate wiped clean once the bill passed and had to accrue three new drunk-driving convictions to be deemed inadmissible.
In order to be deported, though, one of the three offenses must happen after the law takes effec
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