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Klobuchar, Franken pitch amendments to immigration bill

Sens. Klobuchar and Franken
Sens. Klobuchar and Franken

WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee begins the lengthy and likely contentious process of amending a massive immigration reform package on Thursday. 

In total, Judiciary Committee members have proposed some 300 (!) amendments to the bill. That figure includes a handful from both Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken.

Minnesota Public Radio’s Brett Neely gives a quick overview of what specifically the pair offered up, including:

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.

Proposed amendments are a good way to pinpoint lawmakers’ qualms with specific legislation. In this case, for example, a Franken aide emailed this week to say his slate of amendments “tackle some of the concerns he would like to see addressed: 1) to improve the E-Verify provision in the bill and mitigate any undue burdens on small businesses and legal employees, and; 2) to protect children whose parents have been apprehended or detained in immigration enforcement actions.”

Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski, meanwhile, sifted through the list of amendments (something you, too, can do) and found 10 proposals to watch most closely. He also notes that simply filing an amendment to the bill does not guarantee the committee will vote on it.

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com.

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