LEGISLATIVE BULLETIN – FRIDAY, APRIL 28, 2017
Policy and Advocacy Associate
April 28, 2017
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
New HOPE Act
This bill would amend the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 to authorize funds to identify and eliminate excessive occupational licensure. The Perkins Act is the main source of federal funding for secondary and postsecondary career and technical education (CTE) programs, which are important for building the skills of workers, including immigrants, to meet the needs of employers and growing the economy.
Sponsored by Senator John Cornyn (R – Texas) (1 cosponsor)
4/26/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Cornyn
4/26/2017 Referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP)
Partner with Korea Act
This bill would provide high-skilled visas for nationals of South Korea.
Sponsored by Representative Peter J. Roskam (R-Illinois) (16 cosponsors)
4/20/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Roskam
4/20/2017 Referred to House Judiciary
This bill would amend the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 to authorize funds to identify and eliminate excessive occupational licensure. The Perkins Act is the main source of federal funding for secondary and postsecondary career and technical education (CTE) programs, which are important for building the skills of workers, including immigrants, to meet the needs of employers and growing our economy.
Sponsored by Representative Tim Walberg (R-Michigan) (1 cosponsor)
4/26/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Walberg
4/26/2017 Referred to House Committee on Education and the Workforce
This bill would adjust the immigration status of certain Venezuelan nationals who are in the United States.
Sponsored by Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida) (3 cosponsors)
4/26/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Curbelo
4/26/2017 Referred to House Judiciary Committee
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, May 1, 2017 through Thursday, May 4, 2017.
The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, May 1, 2017.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
There are no immigration or workforce related hearings or markups scheduled for the week of Monday, May 1, 2017.
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
Congress to Pass Short-Term Spending Bill; Agrees to No Border Wall Money
Lawmakers in Capitol Hill reportedly reached a deal on April 27 to avert a government shutdown by passing a one-week continuing resolution that would keep the government funded at the current spending levels until May 5. The short-term spending bill will provide lawmakers additional time to finish negotiations on spending deal for the remaining five months of fiscal year (FY) 2017.
The five-month spending bill, which is still under negotiations, is no longer expected to include an additional $999 million to build a wall along the Southwest border. On April 24, President Trump said that he may wait until the FY 2018 spending bills to seek government funds for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), stated on April 25 that the president will sign a spending bill that does not include funds to build a border wall, but noted that the deal will include “a good bit of money” for border security. Lawmakers continue to negotiate how much to spend on border security technology, road construction along the border, additional Border Patrol agents and on increasing immigration detention.
Current government funding expires on April 28, just as President Trump marks his first 100 days in office.
DOJ Sends Letters to Nine Jurisdictions Regarding Information Sharing of Immigration Status
On Friday, April 21, the Department of Justice sent letters to nine jurisdictions warning that they must certify compliance with the information-sharing provisions of 8 U.S.C. § 1373. Widely interpreted as an effort to target so-called sanctuary jurisdictions, the letters require the jurisdictions to certify their compliance before receiving certain federal law enforcement grant funds. A DOJ statement accompanying the letters asserted that the cited jurisdictions were experiencing an increase in crime due to their immigration policies, but included no data to support that assertion: “The number of murders in Chicago has skyrocketed, rising more than 50 percent from the 2015 levels. New York City continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city’s ‘soft on crime’ stance.”
The letters follow a 2016 memorandum from the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General, which called into question those jurisdictions’ compliance with § 1373. Subsequent DOJ guidance provided for a process of certifying a jurisdiction’s compliance under 8 U.S.C. § 1373.
DHS Faces Criticisms after Launching New Programs Relating to Immigrants and Crime
On April 26, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) Office. The office, which President Trump announced in his January 25 executive order on interior immigration enforcement and touted in his joint speech to Congress, will be run by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), utilizing reallocated funds previously used to advocate on behalf of undocumented immigrants. The main purpose of VOICE is to support victims of crimes whose perpetrators were immigrants, and spread awareness of services available to those crime victims. Critics of VOICE say that the office is an attempt to scapegoat immigrants, pointing to studies that show that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes that native-born U.S. citizens.
Also on April 26, DHS introduced another new service called Department of Homeland Security Victim Information Notification Exchange (DHS-VINE), which allows individuals to track the status of unauthorized immigrants in detention. However, the online database also faced criticism after it emerged that the general public could access detailed information in the system about children held in custody, mostly unaccompanied minors (some as young as a few months old) who came to the U.S. without their parents. DHS removed children from the system within hours of launching DHS-VINE.
Pew: Unauthorized Immigrants at Lowest Level since 2009
A recent Pew Research Center study showed that the number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. dropped to about 11 million in 2015, the lowest level since the midst of the recession in 2009. The decline was caused largely by outflow of undocumented Mexicans, with the number of undocumented Mexicans living in the U.S. falling from 6.4 million to approximately 5.6 million between 2009 and 2015. The report did not explain reasons for the decline, but its earlier reports highlighted the state of the economy after the 2008-09 recession in the U.S. and the implementation of stricter border enforcement around that time. During the same six-year period, the number of undocumented Central Americans increased from 1.6 million to 1.8 million, while the number of undocumented Asian immigrants increased from 1.3 million to 1.5 million.
Poll: Support for Immigration Reaches All-Time High
According to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal (WSJ) poll, a majority of Americans support immigration and believe it helps the nation, with six in ten Americans saying that immigration benefits our country rather than hurts it. This represents the highest level of support for immigration recorded since at least 2005. The poll also revealed that 79 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of Republicans (representing 10-point and 9-point increases from December 2015, respectively) see immigration as beneficial. At the same time, polling indicates that most Americans oppose construction of a wall along the Southern Border and favor path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants. The NBC/WSJ survey followed CNN polling from March, which revealed that 90 percent of Americans, including 87 percent of Republicans, expressed support for an earned path to citizenship for those who have been in the U.S. for a number of years and hold a job, learn English, and pay back taxes owed.
Federal Court Blocks Executive Order Provisions Targeting “Sanctuary Jurisdictions”; Sessions Reassures Mayors on Detainers
On April 25, a federal court in California blocked a key part of President Trump’s executive order on interior enforcement that would threaten federal grant money going to so-called sanctuary jurisdictions.
The nationwide preliminary injunction prevents federal officials from cutting off grants to local jurisdictions that do not help carry out federal immigration enforcement responsibilities beyond those already required under federal law. In issuing the injunction, U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick held that San Francisco and Santa Clara County, California were likely to prevail on their claims that actions taken by the Trump administration to revoke grant funding infringed the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, the court highlighted Fifth Amendment vagueness and due process concerns with stripping grant funding from states, cities and localities deemed “sanctuary jurisdictions;” Tenth Amendment federalism concerns related to commandeering those governmental units to carry out a federal regulatory program; and Article I concerns relating to Congress’s “power of the purse.”
The court noted that the injunction did not affect the ability of the administration to enforce existing federal grant conditions or federal statutes or develop guidance defining so-called sanctuary jurisdictions. The executive order’s language suggested that the government’s potential ability to cut off funding from such cities was expansive. But in court, the administration conceded that such authority already existed and is limited to three grant programs.
Earlier on April 25, prior to the decision’s release, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reassured a meeting of U.S. mayors that the administration would take a narrower view of what constitutes a “sanctuary jurisdiction.” Sessions acknowledged that immigration detainers are voluntary and jurisdictions that opt not to honor them are not in violation of federal law.
Texas House Passes SB 4 to Crack Down on “Sanctuary Jurisdictions”
On April 27, after a floor debate that ran into the early morning hours, the Texas House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), which would crack down on so-called sanctuary jurisdictions by cutting their state grant funding and imposing harsh civil and criminal penalties on cities, counties and law enforcement that elect not to carry out immigration enforcement beyond what federal laws require. Earlier, on February 8, the Texas Senate passed a version of SB 4 that differed from the House bill. Once the two bills are reconciled and re-passed by both legislative bodies, the bill will proceed to Gov. Greg Abbott (R – Texas), who has been a fierce critic of so-called sanctuary jurisdictions and is expected to sign it.
Law enforcement leaders have explained their opposition in the Dallas Morning News, USA Today and Austin American-Statesman and faith leaders have expressed concerns that the bill also will have a negative impact on those who work with undocumented immigrants in their communities. In addition to creating criminal liability for police chiefs, sheriffs and other local government officials who adhere to federal court decisions that have held that immigration detainers can create legal liability for localities that honor them and that honoring them is voluntary, the bill would also permit police officers to question the immigration status of people who are detained, a policy that is likely to have significant implications on community trust.
There were no government reports on immigration or workforce development introduced in the week of April 24, 2017.
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*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Zuzana Jerabek, National Immigration Forum Policy and Advocacy Associate, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Zuzana can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.