Legislative Bulletin – Friday, September 4, 2015

Director of Policy and Advocacy

September 4, 2015

Bills Introduced and Considered

No immigration-related legislation has been introduced or considered during the congressional recess.

Nominations and Confirmations

There were no significant developments on nominations or confirmations during the congressional recess.

Legislative Floor Calendar

The U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate are in recess until Tuesday, September 8.

Upcoming Hearings and Markups

Violence on the Border: Keeping U.S. Personnel Safe

Date: Wednesday September 9, 2015, 10:00 a.m. (House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform)

Location: 2154, Rayburn House Office Building

Witnesses: TBD

Themes in Washington This Week

2016 Republican Presidential Candidates Continue to Raise Immigration

Last week Jeb Bush angered Asian Americans over his “anchor baby” comments. In a news interview in response to Donald Trump’s proposal to end birthright citizenship, Jeb Bush stated he did not support immigrants coming the U.S. to have “anchor babies” and then later tried to clarify that he did not intend for the phrase to describe Hispanics but rather “Asian people.”

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker took varying positions on birthright citizenship, initially stating that the 14th Amendment should be changed to end birthright citizenship, then saying he had no position on the issue, and finally saying Sunday that he did not support repealing or altering the 14th Amendment. The same day, Walker said the idea of a wall along the over 4,000-mile northern border is a legitimate issue that deserves to be “looked at.” The idea was quickly panned by a bipartisan group of senators including Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky). “That’s a pretty dumb idea,” Paul said.

In Iowa, Trump ejected Univision’s Jorge Ramos from a press conference after Ramos, whom Latinos hold in high regard, asked a question without being called upon. Ramos continued to speak as Trump scolded him to “sit down.” He was escorted out by security and later was let back in. Trump also called on Jeb Bush to stop speaking Spanish on the campaign trail: “He’s a nice man. But he should really set the example by speaking English while in the United States.” There is evidence this rhetoric is beginning to have an effect on other races across the country, specifically Senate races in Colorado, Florida and Nevada, where there are sizable Hispanic populations and GOP candidates must respond to Trump’s comments.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also made waves over the weekend when he implied the U.S. government should track immigrants the way FedEx tracks its packages. He also criticized Donald Trump’s immigration plan, calling it “simplistic” and stating that Trump does not understand how “complicated and nuanced” the issue is.

Voters Rise Above Campaign’s Immigration Controversies

Immigration rhetoric remains heated on the campaign trail, but as 400 Democrats and Republicans in Iowa showed on Saturday, a better immigration process still has bipartisan support. The event’s tone was a far cry from the subset of candidates who seem to be trying to outdo one another’s toughness toward immigrants and immigration.

Federal Court Orders End to Family Detention

On August 22, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee reaffirmed her earlier ruling that the federal government has been directly violating the terms of a 1997 settlement agreement by detaining thousands of immigrant women and children in facilities throughout the United States. Under Judge Gee’s ruling, the federal government has until October 23 to end family detention. The federal government, which has continued to advocate for family detention, may appeal the ruling. (The Forum posted a blog on the negative impact family detention has on children.)

Earlier this month, two immigration attorneys received letters from Immigration and Customs enforcement (ICE) informing them they would no longer be allowed in a family detention center in Texas due to their behavior. The attorneys and advocates claim this incident is the latest example of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attempting to hinder access to individuals housed in the facilities in Texas. ICE stated that both individuals violated visitation standards.

CIS Report Regarding Immigrant Welfare Use Refuted

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) issued a report that claims that “immigrant households use welfare at significantly higher rates than native households.” The author finds that “51 percent of households headed by an immigrant” reported using “at least one welfare program during the year.” Conservative Linda Chavez; Alex Nowrasteh at the CATO Institute, a libertarian think tank; and others disagreed, raising questions about the methodology of the analysis.

Government Reports

Congressional Research Service: Unaccompanied Alien Children: An Overview, William A. Kandel (August 18, 2015)

This CRS report gives a detailed look at the current state of unaccompanied children who have crossed the southern border over the last few years, the response by Congress and the Obama Administration to the surge in 2014, and legislation introduced this Congress on the issue.

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*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Jacinta Ma, National Immigration Forum Director of Policy and Advocacy, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Jacinta can be reached at jma@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.