Legislative Bulletin – Friday, December 16, 2016

Policy and Advocacy Associate

December 16, 2016

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

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

S. 3542

Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act

This bill would provide protection from deportation and provide work authorization to those who received DACA by creating a “provisional protected presence” that would last three years.  Those who are eligible for DACA but are not recipients of the program could also apply for such protections.

Sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R – South Carolina) (5 cosponsors).

12/09/2016 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Graham

12/09/2016 Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee

S. 3546

Securing Active and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Act

The two-pronged bill would maintain protections for individuals who qualify for DACA, while requiring Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials to detain undocumented immigrants arrested or convicted of serious crimes and deport them within 90 days.

Sponsored by Senator Jeff Flake (R – Arizona) (0 cosponsors)

12/09/2016 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Flake

12/09/2016 Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. House of Representative and the U.S. Senate are not in session until January 3, 2017.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

There are no hearings or markups scheduled for the next two weeks that end on Friday, December 30, 2016.

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Trump Builds White House Team, Senate Prepares for Confirmation Hearings

On December 13, President-elect Donald Trump selected Stephen Miller, former communications director for Senator Jeff Sessions (R – Alabama), to serve as a senior policy advisor in the White House. Miller led efforts to stop comprehensive immigration reform in 2014, including writing a 23-page handbook that House members used to fight S. 744, the Senate’s Gang of Eight compromise bill. On Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans maintained that they hope to move rapidly to confirm a number of Trump’s cabinet selections in an Inauguration Day session on January 20. Senator Chuck Grassley (R – Iowa), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that he expects nomination hearings for Sessions to serve as Attorney General to be held on January 10 and January 11. However, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – California), the Committee’s Ranking Member, argued that the Committee needs more time to study Sessions’ record. Feinstein noted that Sessions omitted key documents and information from the attorney general questionnaire he submitted to the Committee for his confirmation hearings, including failing to reference his unsuccessful 1986 bid for a federal judgeship.

On December 9, fast-food executive Andrew F. Puzder, Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Labor (DOL), issued a statement backing away from his previous position supporting immigration reform. The statement followed criticism from immigration skeptics.

Flake Introduces Bill to Protect Dreamers, Deport Criminal Immigrants

Senator Jeff Flake (R – Arizona) introduced a two-pronged bill on December 9 that would protect the 740,000 young undocumented people who have received deferred action and employment authorization under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), while requiring Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials to detain undocumented immigrants arrested or convicted of serious crimes and deport them within 90 days. Flake’s bill, known as the SAFE Act, mirrors the BRIDGE Act introduced by Senator Lindsay Graham (R – South Carolina) that same day by providing temporary relief from deportation for young undocumented immigrants, but also includes language from the Criminal Alien Deportation Act of 2015 to expedite the deportation of undocumented immigrants convicted of serious crimes. Flake is a co-sponsor of the BRIDGE Act.

Report Notes Economic Impact of Ending DACA

On December 12, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) published a report highlighting the economic cost of ending DACA, as President-elect Donald Trump promised during his campaign. The report notes that ending the program could lead more than 645,000 DACA beneficiaries to immediately lose their jobs, while forcing employers to incur as much as $3.4 billion turnover costs. The report also projects that ending DACA would reduce tax contributions to Social Security and Medicare by almost $25 billion over 10 years.

ICE Agrees to Notify San Antonio Officials, Service Providers of Detention Releases

U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) announced on December 10 that it will not release immigrants from two Texas detention facilities into San Antonio without notice to the city or local service providers. ICE previously released hundreds of women and children following a December 2 court ruling that found two family detention facilities to be operating in violation of longstanding state requirements for facilities that house children. The women and children were subsequently released into San Antonio, sometimes at night and in arbitrary bus stops or airports. City officials and local service providers said they were unprepared for the releases, which left them scrambling to provide temporary shelter and transportation for the immigrants

Immigration Judges Rejected Majority of Asylum Cases

According to a new report by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), denials of asylum continued to rise in fiscal year (FY) 2016. U.S. immigration judges decided 22,186 asylum cases in FY 2016, nearly 20 percent more than a year earlier, denying asylum in a majority (57 percent) of those cases. This trend appears to reflect the increasing number of asylum seekers appearing in immigration court without legal representation, with the proportion of unrepresented asylum seekers in decided cases rising from 13 to 20 percent over the past ten years. The TRAC report noted that immigration courts deny nine out of every ten cases when the asylum seekers lacks counsel. In the past year, Mexico saw the largest increase (408 percent) in asylum seekers, while Haiti showed the sharpest decline (89 percent).

State & Local

Texas Child Protective Services Refuses to Certify Child Crime Victims for U Visas

According to a report in the Texas Observer, Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) has declined to provide certifications to child victims of crime that would allow them to obtain U nonimmigrant status (U) visas. The U visa, which was created in 2000 as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA), allows immigrant victims of crime to stay in the U.S. for up to four years and eventually apply for permanent resident status. U visas provide special nonimmigrant status to crime victims who are helping law enforcement in an investigation.  According to advocates, the ban on U visa certifications, which has been in place since April 2016, puts vulnerable children at risk and makes them less likely to report being the victim of a crime.  According to the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), the decision to halt the certifications resulted from a routine review of the agency’s practices. However, lawyers and advocates say they did not receive any explanation of the sudden policy shift.

Georgia State Senator Plans to Ban In-State Tuition for DACA Students

Republican state senator Joshua McKoon announced on December 12 that he plans to introduce legislation that would prevent young undocumented immigrants who are recipients of DACA from receiving in-state college tuition at public colleges and universities. The proposal tracks pending litigation arguing that deferred action under DACA is not a “legal status” allowing recipients to receive in-state rates. To qualify for in-state tuition under Georgia law, students must be state residents and have a legal status within the U.S. According to McKoon, DACA is not considered a “legal status” and his proposed bill is supposed to draw distinction between these two terms. The senator plans to pre-file the bill by the end of this year. Many states currently allow undocumented residents to obtain in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

There were no relevant immigration-related reports published in the week of Monday, December 12, 2016.

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*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 cpenichetpaul@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.