The House of Representatives was expected to vote on Tuesday on border security legislation, moving swiftly to embrace beefed-up security measures approved by the Senate last week.
The Obama administration has urged passage of the program providing $600 million to hire 1,500 new federal agents to patrol the border with Mexico. Illegal immigration has become an explosive political issue and could play a role in November 2 congressional elections.
But because of a procedural technicality, President Barack Obama will probably have to wait until at least September to sign the bill into law, should it pass the House.
Congressional aides said that because revenue-raising bills are supposed to originate in the House, the House-passed version of the legislation will have to go back to the Senate for affirmation. But the Senate has recessed until mid-September.
Besides adding agents to the southern border, the money would augment the use of unmanned drones, improve communications among federal agencies and help fund investigations of illegal drug activity at the border.
The Senate sponsor, New York Democrat Charles Schumer, says he hopes the measure can be a first step toward comprehensive immigration reform. Republicans and some Democrats say they won't consider immigration reform unless border enforcement is improved, he said last week.
Obama and his fellow Democrats back comprehensive immigration reform to tighten border security but also allow the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States to get onto a path to citizenship.
The legislation funds the new border measures by raising visa application fees on a select group of companies that operate in the United States and "exploit" U.S. law to import workers from abroad, Schumer said.
Only companies with more than 50 employees in which more than half of the work force are foreigners on H-1B and L visas would be affected, Schumer said. Those visas are usually granted to foreign workers with special skills.
Senate aides said this would affect four companies from India that operate in the United States: Tata, Infosys, Wipro and Mahindra Satyam.
© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.