Legislative Bulletin – Friday, August 25, 2017
Policy and Advocacy Associate
August 24, 2017
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
There were no immigration-related bills introduced or considered since the week of Monday, August 14, 2017.
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate will be in recess until Tuesday, September 5, 2017.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
There are no immigration-related hearings or markups currently scheduled in the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate.
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
President Trump Seriously Considering Ending DACA
President Trump is reportedly considering ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) before the September 5 deadline set by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and officials from nine other states who threatened to challenge the Trump administration in court if it does not rescind the program.
On August 21, top-level Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials met to discuss the future of DACA. The group of DHS officials in the meeting reportedly included DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Thomas Homan, though it was unclear what conclusions the group reached. Immigration advocates responded to the reports that DACA could be rescinded by urging the Trump administration to maintain DACA until Congress approves a permanent, legislative solution.
President Trump Threatens to Shut Down Government Over Border Wall Funding; Suggests He May Pardon Arpaio
President Trump on August 22 threatened to shut down the federal government if Congress does not include border wall funding as part of a package to keep the government operating past September 30, 2017. He urged Congress at a campaign-style rally on border security in Phoenix, Arizona to “build the wall” and warned “if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.” The House already passed a spending bill on July 27 that includes $1.6 billion to build physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. However, Senate Democrats almost uniformly oppose border wall funding and some Senate Republicans have previously expressed skepticism of the wall’s high cost.
On August 23, Speaker Paul Ryan responded to President Trump’s comments on the border wall by noting that he does not believe a government shutdown is necessary and “most people,” including members of Congress, do not want to see a government shutdown. Ryan noted that the House already approved some funding for the wall, but stressed that “more time” would be needed to implement the plan.
At the Phoenix rally, President Trump also suggested that he might pardon former Maricopa County Sherriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt on July 31 for intentionally disobeying a judge’s order to stop detaining people based solely on suspicion of an individual’s immigration status. The criminal charges grew out of a lawsuit charging that Arapio regularly violated the rights of Latinos, stopping individuals based on racial profiling and detaining them based solely on the suspicion that they were undocumented immigrants. President Trump asked the crowd at the rally whether Arpaio was convicted for doing his job and predicted that the former Sherriff will be “just fine,” saying he would not pardon Arpaio that night because he did not want to cause controversy.
White House Mulls Deal on Dreamers as September 5 Deadline Approaches
The White House is reportedly considering a plan to protect Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, in exchange for legislation to fund a border wall in the U.S.-Mexico border, increase the number of immigration detention beds, reduce legal immigration to the U.S. and implement E-verify. Multiple White House officials, including Chief of Staff John Kelly, are reportedly urging President Trump to attempt to create such a deal with Congress. However, Congressional Democrats immediately issued strong criticisms of the deal outlined in the report and said that the White House should not use Dreamers as leverage to expand border security and immigration enforcement. Senator Dick Durbin (D – Illinois) called the idea a “nonstarter” and argued that the Dream Act, which he introduced with Senator Lindsey Graham (R – South Carolina), already offers a bipartisan solution for Dreamers. The issue has received increased attention after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and officials from nine other states threatened to challenge Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in federal court if the Trump administration does not end DACA by September 5.
Six House Republicans signed a letter to President Trump on August 22 urging him to continue DACA until Congress passes a permanent, legislative solution for Dreamers. In addition, a group of more than 100 mayors and county officials from 35 states sent a letter to President Trump urging him to defend DACA from a potential court challenge. The letter notes that DACA recipients play an important role in their communities and the economy, and contribute an estimated $2 billion a year in state and local taxes.
DHS Ends Parole Program for Central American Minors
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on August 16 it will terminate the parole provision of the Central American Minors (CAM) program, which allows certain young migrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to come to the U.S. if they have at least one parent with legal status in the country and apply for refugee status. Under the parole provisions, individuals who do not qualify as refugees can enter the U.S. under humanitarian parole, a temporary status that needs to be periodically renewed. The parole portion of the program was established in 2014 in effort to reduce the number of unaccompanied children from Central America coming to the U.S. without legal status.
OIG Reports Question CBP and ICE Personnel and Hiring Issues
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a report highlighting the challenges that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would face in hiring additional officers and agents consistent with President Trump’s executive orders. The executive orders require that ICE hire 10,000 additional immigration officers and CBP hire 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents. The report found that CBP and ICE could not provide data to support the operational need or deployment strategies for the additional 15,000 agents and officers, and noted that the agencies have performed poorly on workforce planning issues and that their human resources operations are understaffed.
The OIG report also examined the number of job applicants it would take both ICE and CBP to hire qualified personnel at the levels outlined in the executive orders. To reach the personnel levels set out in the executive order, OIG determined that the agencies collectively need more than 1.25 million new applicants to apply — 500,000 new applicants for ICE to hire an additional 10,000 immigration officers and 750,000 new applicants for CBP to hire an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents.
Another report by the DHS OIG examined waste and inefficiencies in CBP’s hiring process. The report found that CBP spent more than $5 million on polygraph exams for job applicants who had admitted disqualifying criminal acts or drug use on employment documents or during pre-polygraph interviews. Even though these applicants were already deemed unsuitable and would not be hired, CBP provided them with polygraph examinations because its hiring process does not automatically stop such applicants from going through the polygraph examination before being disqualified for the position.
Kentucky DACA Recipient Apprehended by ICE, Release Expected
Riccy Enriquez-Perdomo, a 22-year-old recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and mother of two U.S. citizen children, was detained by ICE on August 17 in Louisville, Kentucky. Enriquez-Perdomo was brought to the U.S. when she was nine years old and has a valid DACA status, but she was apprehended after entering an immigration office to post bond for another immigrant who was eligible for release.
Advocates condemned ICE’s failure to honor Enriquez-Perdomo’s existing DACA relief and Senator Dick Durbin (D – Illinois) released a statement expressing concern about the case. On August 23, ICE officials told Univision that Enriquez-Perdomo was now in the process of being released from detention.
California Sues Trump Administration for Withholding Grant Funding
In August, the state of California filed lawsuits over new conditions imposed on Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program for local law enforcement agencies. JAG grants are a leading source of federal funding to state and local jurisdictions to support law enforcement, prosecution and crime prevention, among other initiatives. The new conditions require jurisdictions to enforce federal immigration law by allowing federal immigration authorities to access local jails and provide at least 48-hour notice before releasing an undocumented immigrant in their custody.
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. The lawsuit follows an ongoing effort by the Trump administration to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities.
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. Chicago filed a similar lawsuit challenging the new funding conditions on July 31.
The lawsuits accuse the Justice Department of improperly adding new funding conditions that without congressional authority and improperly attempt to commandeer local law enforcement agents to enforce federal immigration law.
Opponents of the new conditions also argue that increasing federal immigration enforcement at the local level will make members of the immigrant community less likely to cooperate with local law enforcement due to the fear of being deported.
State & Local
Republican Illinois Governor to Sign Bill Limiting Cooperation with Federal Immigration Enforcement
Governor Bruce Rauner (R – Illinois) announced that he will sign Illinois’ Trust Act (S.B. 31) on August 28. The bill, which received bipartisan support and passed the state legislature in late June, would limit state and local police in Illinois from honoring federal immigration detainers unless a judge issues a warrant. Courts have such warrantless detainers to be legally dubious. Illinois law enforcement leaders endorsed the legislation in a letter that urged Rauner to sign the bill, describing it as “sensible policy to effectively devote…time and taxpayer’s money going after true threats to public safety and security and not wasting limited resources apprehending and removing immigrants who are merely seeking to work or reunite with family.”
Office of Inspector General: Special Report: Challenges Facing DHS in Its Attempt to Hire 15,000 Border Patrol Agents and Immigration Officers, July 27, 2017
This report examines challenges in identifying, recruiting, hiring, and fielding the number of new U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers required by President Trump’s two executive orders from January 2017. The executive orders direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to hire an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents and 10,000 Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers. The report finds that to hire 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents would require over 750,000 applicants and to hire 10,000 ERO officers would require over 500,000 applicants.
Office of Inspector General: Management Alert – CBP Spends Millions Conducting Polygraph Examinations on Unsuitable Applicants, August 4, 2017
This report examines the results of an on-going department-wide audit at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The Office of Inspector General (OIG) prepared the report to identify and describe current inefficiencies in CBP’s hiring process before the planned increases in the agency’s staffing. The report finds that CBP spent more than $5 million on polygraph exams for job applicants who had admitted disqualifying criminal acts or drug use on employment documents or during pre-polygraph interviews. The report notes that this occurred because CBP’s hiring process does not automatically stop unsuitable applicants from going through the polygraph examination.
Congressional Research Service: Department of Homeland Security Appropriations: FY2017, August 10, 2017 (by William L. Painter, Barbara L. Schwemle)
This report examines appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for fiscal year (FY) 2017. The report also compares DHS appropriations for FY 2017 with those enacted in FY 2016.
* * *
*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Christian Penichet-Paul, National Immigration Forum Policy and Advocacy Associate, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Christian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.