Senator Barbara Mikulski sneaks H-2B visa increase into defense bill
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Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) used back-room negotiations to slip language into the Department of Defense Authorization bill, signed into law on October 18, 2006, that potentially doubles the H-2B visa cap for unskilled workers. This language added to the defense bill is similar to the H-2B amendment Senator Mikulski offered to S.2611, the Senate guest worker amnesty bill that the House refused to take to conference committee. Senator Mikulski was successful in including the H-2B language to in the Defense Authorization bill despite statements from Armed Services Chairman John Warner (R-VA) that he would not allow any extraneous provisions to be added to that bill. In contrast, before Congress adjourned for the November elections, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) waged a public battle to attach his own immigration provision to the same defense bill. Speaker Hastert’s provision would have prohibited alien gang members from entering the U.S. and allowed for the detention and deportation of alien gang members already within the country. Chairman Warner, however, refused the Speaker’s request to include the alien gang language. Last week, as the President signed the Defense Authorization bill into law, Senator Mikulski released a statement stating she would not have been successful in her effort to pass the H-2B provision without the help of Senator Warner.