Legislative Bulletin – Friday, August 11, 2017

Policy and Advocacy Associate

August 10, 2017

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
GOVERNMENT REPORTS

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

S. 1662

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2018

The bill contains funding for Executive Office for Immigration Review and State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance, including the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program.

Sponsored by Senator Richard C. Shelby (R-Alabama) (0 cosponsors)

07/27/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Shelby

07/27/2017 Committee on Appropriations. Original measure reported to Senate by Senator Shelby. With written report No. 115-139.

S. 1703

The bill would amend section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow certain alien veterans to be paroled into the United States to receive health care furnished by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsored by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) (1 cosponsor)

08/02/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Duckworth

08/02/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

S. 1704

The bill would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a veterans visa program to permit veterans who have been removed from the United States to return as immigrants.

Sponsored by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) (0 cosponsors)

08/02/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Duckworth

08/02/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

S. 1720

RAISE Act

The bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to establish a skills-based immigration points system, to focus family-sponsored immigration on spouses and minor children, to eliminate the Diversity Visa Program, to set a limit on the number of refugees admitted annually to the United States.

Sponsored by Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) (1 cosponsor)

08/02/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Cotton

08/02/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

S. 1725

The bill would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to identify each alien who has served, or is serving, in the Armed Forces of the United States when any alien applies for an immigration benefit or is placed in an immigration enforcement proceeding.

Sponsored by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) (1 cosponsor)

08/02/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Duckworth

08/02/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

S. 1757

Building America’s Trust Act

The bill would strengthen border security, increase resources for enforcement of immigration laws.

Sponsored by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) (6 cosponsors)

08/03/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Cornyn

08/03/2017 Read the first time. Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under Read the First Time

H.R. 3513

Canadian Snowbird Visa Act

This appropriations bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to authorize admission of Canadian retirees as long-term visitors for pleasure described in section 101(a)(15)(B) of such Act. This bipartisan legislation would extend by two months the time Canadians who own or lease a home in the United States can travel in the United States.

Sponsored by Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY) (4 cosponsors)

07/27/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Stefanik

07/27/2017 Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Ways and Means

H.R. 3563

This bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to recognize the service of veterans of the armed forces by providing a more navigable and accommodating pathway for veterans honorably discharged from the United States military to naturalize and seek citizenship.

Sponsored by Representative Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-CA) (3 cosponsors)

07/28/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Barragan

07/28/2017 Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 3591

The American Hope Act of 2017

This bill would amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to permit States to determine State residency for higher education purposes and to authorize the cancellation of removal and adjustment of status of certain aliens who are United States residents and who entered the United States as children.

Sponsored by Representative Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) (124 cosponsors)

07/28/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Gutierrez

07/28/2017 Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Education and the Workforce

H.R. 3548

Border Security for America Act

This bill calls for building additional physical barriers, which includes wall, levee wall, fencing, technology, as well a surge in personnel at our ports of entry. It would provide $10 billion for border wall and $5 billion on enhancing security at U.S border, add 5,000 Border Patrol Agents and 5,000 CBP Officers, authorize use of the National Guard along the southern border, fully deploy the Biometric Entry-Exit System, and support state and local law enforcement.

Sponsored by Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX)

07/28/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative McCaul

H.R. 3647

This bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act comprehensively to reform immigration law.

Sponsored by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) (0 cosponsors)

08/08/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Jackson Lee

08/08/2017 Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Homeland Security, and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate will be in recess until Tuesday, September 5, 2017.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

There are no relevant hearings or markups scheduled until Tuesday, September 5, 2017.

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

RAISE Act Would Cut Legal Immigration Dramatically

In a White House event with President Trump on Wednesday, August 2, Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and David Perdue (R-Georgia) introduced an updated version of RAISE Act, S. 354. Like the original bill, which was unveiled in February, the revised measure would reduce legal immigration by 50 percent or more over the next 10 years. In addition, it would limit annual refugee admissions to 50,000 and eliminate the diversity visa lottery, which provides 50,000 green cards to people from countries with low immigration rates. The bill’s sponsors touted it as a move toward a merit-based immigration system, similar to the systems in place in Canada and Australia, prioritizing mainly high-skilled immigrants.

The RAISE Act received fierce criticism from across the political spectrum, including from prominent Republicans.  Critics noted that the bill would do nothing to increase skilled immigration, only increasing the relative number of skilled immigrants by dramatically reducing family immigration and non-STEM work visas. Business leaders and other conservative leaders stressed that the measure would exacerbate labor shortages, undercut economic growth, while undermining the prosperity of American workers and their families.

A new paper from the National Immigration Forum and the National Foundation for American Policy released following the introduction of the RAISE Act lays out the ways in which legal immigration helps the economy, while showing that a reduction in immigration would not yield a significant wage increase for American workers.

Texas Counties Strike Deal with Trump Administration to Enforce Immigration Laws through 287(g) Program

On July 31, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reached a deal with eighteen Texas counties to have local law enforcement officials in jails carry out additional immigration enforcement responsibilities. Under these so-called 287(g) agreements, named after section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, agents from local sheriff’s offices will be trained to check if individuals in their custody are in violation of U.S. immigration law.

Section 287(g) permits the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to enter into formal agreements with state and local police departments so local agents can take on some of the functions of federal immigration enforcement officials. Critics of 287(g) agreements have cited the program’s costs, its impact on community trust, and past abuses.

The program is voluntary and only a relative handful of jurisdictions have existing 287(g) agreements with DHS. With the addition of these eighteen counties, ICE has 60 active 287 (g) agreements.

Trump Administration Releases Immigration Detention Report

On August 1, DHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a joint report on detained immigrants. According to the report, there were 41,554 foreign-born inmates under the supervision of DOJ’s Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Of this population, 54.2 percent have been issued final immigration orders, 33.4 percent are under ICE investigation for possible removal, 12.3 percent are pending adjudication and 0.1 percent have been granted relief on the basis of asylum claims. The report was required under President Trump’s Executive Order on Public Safety in the Interior of the U.S. that directed the departments to gather information regarding imprisoned immigrants and summarize them in quarterly reports.

Also on August 1, ICE announced that Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers apprehended 650 individuals during Operation Border Guardian/Border Resolve in July. The four-day operation targeted unaccompanied kids and families that entered the U.S. without proper immigration documents. Of the 650 individuals arrested nationwide in the operation, 130 had criminal convictions. ICE claims that the unaccompanied minors targeted during this operation had either reached the age of 18 (“aging out” of the protections applying to unaccompanied minors) or were 16 years old or older while possessing criminal histories or suspected gang ties.

Legal

Judge Dismisses Texas Lawsuit over “Sanctuary City” Measure

On August 9, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks dismissed a pre-emptive lawsuit filed by the State of Texas against Travis County and other defendants over Texas Senate Bill 4 (S.B. 4).  Texas sought a declaratory judgment holding that S.B. 4, the controversial bill signed by Governor Greg Abbott (R – Texas) in May, was lawful. Judge Sparks declined to issue the declaratory relief requested, declaring that it was too soon to issue such a ruling prior to its implementation.

S.B. 4 bars Texas jurisdictions from maintaining community trust policies consistent with federal law, prohibiting law enforcement from asking about the immigration status of individuals they encounter during routine stops. The bill also forces local jurisdictions to dedicate scarce resources to immigration enforcement duties traditionally carried out by the federal government, penalizing jurisdictions, law enforcement officers, and elected officials with harsh civil and criminal penalties for not performing certain immigration enforcement activities.

The law now awaits a ruling from a federal court in San Antonio where city leaders and minority groups have sued to prevent it from taking effect.  The measure is set to take effect September 1, 2017.

Chicago Sues Department of Justice

On Monday, July 31, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the city filed a federal lawsuit attempting to prevent the Department of Justice from enacting new policies seeking to withhold federal money from cities, like Chicago, that do not grant federal immigration officials access to local jails. The new policies also require local law enforcement to give federal authorities a 48-hour notice before releasing any individual wanted for an immigrant violation. If cities do not follow these guidelines, they will not be eligible for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program, which provides local governments with funds for law enforcement equipment. Legal experts and law enforcement officials have expressed concern that the 48-hour notice requirement may be impossible to meet in some circumstances, particularly when those detained post bond or have their criminal cases dismissed.

In the lawsuit, Chicago alleges that the lawsuit violates its “welcoming cities” ordinance, which does not allow ICE officials access local jails unless the individual is wanted on a criminal warrant or has a criminal convictions. Chicago is supposed to receive $3.2 million from Byrne JAG this year. While the amount represents just a small portion of the total budget, the city notes that the equipment bought with the grant money is essential for keeping the city safe. The challenge follows an ongoing effort by the Trump administration to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities. Chicago requested a decision by September 5, which is the deadline to apply for the Byrne JAG program.

Last month, in separate litigation brought by San Francisco and Santa Clara County, California, a federal court in California declined to dismiss a lawsuit challenging a key part of President Trump’s executive order on interior enforcement that would threaten federal grant money going to so-called sanctuary jurisdictions.

Former Sheriff Arpaio Convicted of Criminal Contempt in Federal Court

On July 31, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton found former sheriff Joe Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt for ignoring a court injunction ordering him to stop targeting immigrants during traffic patrols. Arpaio, who served as Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff for 24 years, gained national attention for his strict immigration policies and poor county jail conditions. In 2011, a federal district judge issued a court order barring Arpaio from arresting individuals based solely on their potential immigration status if there was no evidence that a federal law had been broken. Despite this order, Sheriff Arpaio continued the practice oif targeting Latino drivers for 18 months, leading to a judicial determination that the department engaged in racial profiling. After six terms in office, Arpaio was voted out of the sheriff’s position last November.

Arpaio, who previously was found guilty of civil contempt in 2015, faced a maximum sentence of six months in jail. His sentencing will be announced on October 5.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Government Accountability Office: REFUGEES: Actions Needed by State Department and DHS to Further Strengthen Applicant Screening Process and Assess Fraud RisksJuly 31, 2017 (by Rebecca Gambler)

This report provides a review of refugee screening process under the U.S. Refugee Admission Program (USRAP). It describes what Department of State and DHS data indicate about the characteristics and outcomes of USRAP applications. It also analyzes the extent to which State and Resettlement Support Centers have policies and procedures on refugee case processing, the extent to which USCIS has policies and procedures for adjudicating refugee applications, and the extent to which State and USCIS have mechanisms in place to detect and prevent applicant fraud. The report also provides several recommendations for each of the participating departments and agencies.

Government Accountability Office: REFUGEES: State and Its Partners Have Implemented Several Antifraud Measures but Could Further Reduce Staff Fraud RisksJuly 31, 2017 (by Thomas Melito)

This report examines cooperation among the State Department and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to ensure program integrity in the UNHCR resettlement referral process. The report analyzes the extent to which the State Department and Resettlement Support Centers (RSC) follow leading practices to reduce the risk of fraud committed by RSC staff. It also provides a set of recommendations suggested by GAO.

 

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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 zjerabek@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.