Klobuchar and Franken ready immigration bill amendments

WASHINGTON – Tomorrow, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will begin marking up the immigration overhaul bill. Both of Minnesota’s Democratic senators sit on the committee and plan to offer amendments in what could be a long and contentious debate.

Here’s a quick summary of some what they’re trying to add to the bill:

E-Verify: One of Sen. Al Franken’s amendments would keep small businesses with 14 or fewer employees from being covered by the electronic verification system to prove the legal status of employees unless the system’s accuracy improves. Franken has taken on this cause in the past few weeks, claiming the Minnesota dairies would be particularly harmed by the bill’s requirement that all employees submit to E-Verify checks. He also has a handful of smaller E-Verify amendments.

STEM Education: Sen. Amy Klobuchar wants to increase the fees charged to companies that bring in foreign workers by $1,000 and use the proceeds to fund science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in the U.S.

Domestic Violence: Klobuchar has introduced an amendment to make it easier for victims of domestic violence and elder abuse to apply for permanent residence in the U.S. Franken has an amendment that would give battered immigrant women access to public housing assistance.

Child Protection: Franken also has an amendment authored jointly with Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley to take care of children whose parents have been detained for immigration violations. The amendment would allow parents to make phone calls to arrange care for their children and allow children to visit their parents in custody.