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Senators vote down fingerprint amendment to immigration bill

The immigration reform bill offering tremendous changes to the U.S. immigration system is now making its way through the Senate. Legislators are poring over the contents of the bill and considering its effects in the long and short terms. For example, can the provisions be implemented affordably? And do some proposed amendments create overwhelming barriers for people seeking citizenship or permanent residency?

New Yorkers following the proceedings will be interested to know that on May 14 one amendment was voted down by Senators who want to keep the core of the bill intact.

Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama proposed an amendment requiring a biometric tracking system for people who are living in the country without legal permission. If the amendment had been accepted, identification such as fingerprinting would have been required of all persons who don't have immigration documents but who want to become permanent residents or citizens.

But one of the bill's authors, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, pointed out that such a tracking system carries a price tag of $25 billion. Schumer said that, in addition to the heavy monetary cost, a biometric system would create unnecessary obstacles for the 11 million immigrants who don't already have legal permission to be in the country.

Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against the amendment, defeating it in a 12-6 vote. Still, the question of biometric tracking may come up again as legislators push the issue of border security.

Residents of the five boroughs will undoubtedly want to keep an eye on the bill as it comes under legislative scrutiny.

Source:, "Senators argue over immigration bill ID mandates," Erica Werner, May 14, 2013

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