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On June 27, 2013, the U.S. Senate approved S.744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Modernization Act,” in a historic 68-to-32 vote that will now send the comprehensive reform bill to the U.S. House of Representatives, where it is expected to face significant opposition from the Republican majority. The legislation is a product of record bipartisan cooperation among lawmakers, business groups, labor unions, agricultural interests, and immigration advocates, who painstakingly negotiated compromises resulting in a broad architecture for reform – including a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, a new temporary worker program, increased visa numbers for skilled foreign workers, and a nationwide employment eligibility verification system.

Importantly, Republican support for S. 744 was greatly bolstered by the June 26, 2013 passage of a border security amendment that will devote approximately $40 billion dollars to add 20,000 additional Border Patrol agents and 700 miles of fencing along the U.S. border with Mexico over the next 10 years.

The bill had previously withstood committee “mark-up” in a process spanning five days and over 300 amendments, including a dramatic decision to withdraw a measure that would allow the same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens to obtain green cards in the same manner as heterosexual couples.  This highly contested amendment is now expected to become moot after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this week.

Despite a noteworthy showing in the U.S. Senate, the bill is expected to face substantial challenges in the U.S. House of Representatives, where Republican leaders have advocated issue-specific changes to the nation’s broken immigration system in lieu of enacting comprehensive reform. According to some immigration experts, a likely and desirable outcome as S. 744 proceeds to the second chamber is that it will enter the “conference” process and ultimately emerge as a version both parties can agree to enact into law.

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Photo of Laura Foote Reiff ‡ Laura Foote Reiff ‡

Laura Foote Reiff has more than 32 years of experience representing businesses and organizations in the business immigration and compliance field. She is also a business immigration advocate and has long chaired prominent business immigration coalitions. Laura is Co-Founder of GT’s Business and

Laura Foote Reiff has more than 32 years of experience representing businesses and organizations in the business immigration and compliance field. She is also a business immigration advocate and has long chaired prominent business immigration coalitions. Laura is Co-Founder of GT’s Business and Immigration and Compliance Group which she co-led since 1999. She currently chairs the Northern Virginia/Washington D.C. Immigration and Compliance Practice. Laura is also Co-Managing Shareholder of the Northern Virginia Office of GT, a position she has held since 2010. As a global leader in the business immigration community, Laura has served on the Boards of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Forum and is currently the Chair of the America is Better Board.

Laura advises corporations on a variety of compliance-related issues, particularly related to Form I-9 eligibility employment verification matters. Laura has been involved in audits and internal investigations and has successfully minimized monetary exposure as well as civil and criminal liabilities on behalf of her clients. She develops immigration compliance strategies and programs for both small and large companies. Laura performs I-9, H-1B and H-2B compliance inspections during routine internal reviews, while performing due diligence (in the context of a merger, acquisition or sale) or while defending a company against a government investigation.

Laura represents many businesses in creating, managing and using “Regional Centers” that can create indirect jobs toward the 10 new U.S. jobs whose creation can give rise to EB-5 permanent residence for investment. She coordinates this work with attorneys practicing in securities law compliance, with economists identifying “targeted employment areas” and projecting indirect job creation, and with licensed securities brokers coordinating offerings. She also represents individual investors in obtaining conditional permanent residence and in removing conditions from permanent residence.

Laura’s practice also consists of managing business immigration matters and providing immigration counsel to address the visa and work authorization needs of U.S. and global personnel including professionals, managers and executives, treaty investors/ traders, essential workers, persons of extraordinary ability, corporate trainees, and students. She is an immigration policy advocacy expert and works on immigration reform policies.

 Admitted in the District of Columbia and Maryland. Not admitted in Virginia. Practice limited to federal immigration practice.