Legislative Bulletin – Friday, December 2, 2016
Policy and Advocacy Associate
December 2, 2016
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
This bill would streamline congressional oversight over the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It would also provide for certain homeland security improvements in areas such as border and marine coordination, visa integrity, cyber security, counterterrorism screening, and others.
Sponsored by Representative Michael T. McCaul (R – Texas) (0 cosponsors)
11/18/2016 Introduced in the House by Representative McCaul
11/18/2016 Referred to the Committee on Homeland Security, and in addition to the Committees on Foreign Affairs, the Judiciary, Transportation and Infrastructure, Energy and Commerce, Agriculture, Oversight and Government Reform, Ways and Means, Science, Space, and Technology, and Financial Services
No Religious Registry Act
This bill would prohibit U.S. government officials from collecting information or utilizing a registry or database to classify on the basis of religious affiliation: (1) U.S. nationals or aliens lawfully present in the United States, or (2) aliens who apply for a visa or seek admission to the United States or on whose behalf a petition under the immigration laws is submitted. The bill would also prohibit studies related to the collection of such information or the establishment or utilization of such a registry or database.
Sponsored by Representative Suzan K. DelBene (D – Washington) (43 cosponsors)
11/18/2016 Introduced in the House by Representative DelBene
11/18/2016 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
This bill, which has not yet formally been introduced, would extend legal protections for young people who have received deferred action under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the 2012 directive from President Barack Obama.
Sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham (R – South Carolina)
Secure Citizenship Act of 2016
This bill would make an alien who applies for naturalization using a false identity ineligible for citizenship and would require the completion of the Historical Fingerprint Enrollment Program.
Sponsored by Senator Ben Sasse (R – Nebraska) (0 cosponsors)
11/17/2016 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Sasse
National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2017
The bill provides for the budget and expenditures of the United States Department of Defense, as well as other programs, including the reauthorization of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program.
Sponsored by Senator John McCain (R – Arizona) (0 cosponsors)
05/18/2016 Introduced by Senator McCain
11/30/2016 Conference Report Filed
12/02/2016 Passed the House by a 375 to 34 vote
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, December 5, 2016, through Thursday, December 8, 2016.
The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, December 5, 2016.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
There are no immigration-related hearings or markups scheduled for the week of Monday, December 5, 2016.
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
Trump Nominates Rep. Price as HHS Secretary; Considers DHS, DOL, State Department Picks
President-elect Donald Trump announced that he would nominate Representative Tom Price (R – Georgia) to be the next secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Representative Price, who is a licensed physician, has been a longtime opponent of the Affordable Care Act and has expressed support for significant changes to Medicare and Medicaid. At HHS, Price would oversee the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is responsible for the care and placement of unaccompanied children (UAC). Price has previously has been critical of the Obama administration’s refugee resettlement policies. Senate Democrats are expected to oppose his confirmation.
Trump’s transition team has been also holding meetings with candidates under consideration to lead the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Earlier this week, President-elect Trump met with –Frances Townsend, who was an official in President George W. Bush’s administration, and Representative Michael McCaul (R – Texas), who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee. Retired Marine General John Kelly, the former commander of the U.S. Southern Command, is also reportedly under consideration.
Trump is also considering Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the controversial author of Arizona’s SB 1070 law and other legislation targeting immigrants in a number of states. After meeting with Trump on November 21, Kobach was photographed by a photographer carrying a document titled “Department Of Homeland Security – Kobach Strategic Plan For First 365 Days.” The memo called for the reintroduction of a Muslim registry system, reducing the intake of Syrian refugees to zero, and removing a “record number of criminal aliens in the first year.” Kobach has played a leading role in efforts to restrict immigration and ramp up enforcement against immigrants.
For the post of Secretary of State, Trump has been considering 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former General and C.I.A. director David Petraeus, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Several candidates are reportedly under consideration for Secretary of Labor including Commissioner Victoria Lipnic of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Rep. Lou Barletta (R – Pennsylvania), a prominent anti-immigrant hardliner. Other potential candidates are management-side employment and labor attorney Peter Kirsanow, CEO of CKE Restaurants Andrew Puzder and Gov. Scott Walker (R – Wisconsin).
Sen. Graham Working on Bill to Protect Dreamers
Senator Lindsey Graham (R – South Carolina) announced he is preparing legislation which would protect the 740,000 young people who have received deferred action under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). These young people, commonly called “Dreamers” after the proposed DREAM Act, face deportation if President-elect Trump follows through with his campaign promise to repeal DACA.
Senator Jeff Flake (R – Arizona) and Senator Dick Durbin (D – Illinois), both longstanding supporters of the Dreamers, are working on the bipartisan bill with Graham. The legislation is expected to be introduced after the new Congress is sworn in next year.
House to Vote on NDAA, Extending Afghan SIV Program
Senate and House negotiators struck a deal in a conference committee on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2017, with the House voting to pass the bill on December 2. Relevant to immigration policy, the NDAA will extend the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program through 2017 and authorize an additional 1,500 visas for Afghans who served as interpreters to the U.S. military and other American officials during the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. Earlier in 2016, a number of Republican Senators blocked efforts to include the Afghan SIV program in the NDAA over security concerns. However, supporters of the program, including Senators John McCain (R – Arizona) and Jeanne Shaheen (D – New Hampshire), spoke about the responsibility of the United States to protect its allies and the program’s strong security safeguards. Currently, there are more than 10,000 Afghans waiting in the program’s backlog.
Congress Looks to Pass Short-Term Continuing Resolution
Congress is expected to pass a short-term spending bill, or continuing resolution, before December 9 that will fund the government at the current spending levels until March 2017. The legislative move is supported by President-elect Trump, who may want to influence the spending debate for the last six months of fiscal year (FY) 2017. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – Kentucky) appear to support the plan, despite some concerns among Senate Republicans that passing a short-term funding version would hurt national security.
Somali Community Fears Backlash after Ohio State University Attack
Ohio’s Somali community fears potential backlash after a young Somali immigrant’s attack at Ohio State University that left 11 people injured. The attacker, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, an Ohio State student, was a refugee who came to the U.S. as a legal permanent resident. Although ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, authorities said there is no evidence that Artan was linked to any overseas militant group and that he likely self-radicalized online after arriving to the U.S. Artan was shot and killed by a police officer shortly after driving his car into a crowd and then stabbing people with a butcher knife.
Reacting to the attack, President-elect Trump tweeted that the suspect “should not have been in our country.” During his presidential campaign, Trump proposed banning Muslim travel to the U.S. and later called for “extreme vetting” of would be immigrants, which was widely perceived to single out Muslims for additional scrutiny.
Hundreds of Churches, Colleges, and Universities across the Nation Commit to Protecting Undocumented Immigrants from Deportation
Hundreds of churches, colleges, and universities across the nation are continuing to publicly show support for undocumented immigrants should President-elect Trump ramp up deportations in the coming year. More than 300 churches nationwide have announced that they will provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation and 70 Catholic leaders have also pledged solidarity with undocumented students attending Catholic educational institutions.
There is a growing national movement to protect undocumented immigrants led by churches, colleges, and universities in response to President-elect Trump’s proposed plans to increase deportations, end DACA, and establish a Muslim registry. Hundreds of colleges and universities have declared themselves “sanctuary campuses,” with University of California president Janet Napolitano recently announcing that all UC schools will refuse to cooperate with federal immigration agencies. Meanwhile in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has threatened to restrict federal funds from any public university that declares itself a sanctuary campus.
Homeland Security Advisory Council Members Reject Recommendation to Continue Use of Private Immigration Detention
On December 2, the Homeland Security Advisory Council voted to reject the continued use of private-for-profit detention for federal immigration detention purposes. The rejected recommendation was the key recommendation of a report that also recommended improving Immigration and Customs (ICE) oversight of immigration detention facilities nationwide. The rejection of that recommendation by almost three-fourths of the Advisory Council is not binding on DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson or his successor in the next administration. The Advisory Council approved the report’s other recommendations.
CBP Plans to Open 2nd Temporary Shelter on Texas Border
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) plans to open a second temporary holding facility on the Texas border in response to a surge of families and unaccompanied children attempting to enter the United States to flee violence and poverty in Central America. The shelter will be located at the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge in the Rio Grande Valley city of Donna and should serve up to 500 people. The official opening date has not been set yet. Earlier this month, officials opened a similar tent facility outside El Paso.
Federal Court Orders Customs and Border Control to Improve Holding Cell Conditions along the U.S.-Mexico Border
The District Court of Arizona recently issued a preliminary injunction in Doe v. Johnson, a class action lawsuit challenging the conditions of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) detention facilities along the U.S.-Mexico Border. The complaint, filed last year, argued that the Tucson Sector Border Patrol held immigrant adults and children in freezing, ill-equipped and unhygienic holding cells in violation of CBP guidelines and the U.S. Constitution. The preliminary injunction requires CBP to improve facility conditions and sets forth detailed guidelines such as providing detained immigrants with sleeping mats. The injunction also requires continued oversight of such facilities to ensure compliance.
Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments on Immigration Bond Case
On November 30, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Jennings v. Rodriguez, a class action lawsuit from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which examines whether detained immigrants in prolonged immigration detention have a right to a bond hearing. The Ninth Circuit had ruled that immigrants who are detained for more than six months must receive a bond hearing and continue to receive a bond hearing every six months as long as they remain in detention. The federal government appealed, arguing that mandatory detention laws provide Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with the authority to keep certain immigrants in prolonged detention.
At oral arguments, Acting Solicitor General Ian Gershengorn defended the federal government’s policy of mandatorily detaining certain immigrants without a bail hearingis consistent with congressional intent. American Civil Liberties Union attorney Ahilan Arulanantham argued that detained immigrants have a constitutional right under the Fifth Amendment to challenge the necessity of their detention. A decision is expected next June.
Michigan Advocacy Groups Sue Government, Claiming Border Checks Occur in Entire State
The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center and American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, claiming that the zone where border agents can conduct warrantless searches to prevent undocumented immigrants from entering the country is excessively broad. The current policy permits border agents to check anyone within 100 miles of international border. However, the lawsuit claims that the agency considers the entire state of Michigan to fall within 100-mile range although many parts of the state are technically further than 100 miles from Canada. While federal officials argue that the checkpoints are essential to uncover immigration violations, the advocacy groups’ data show that about 40 percent of individuals stopped by the agents are either citizens or lawfully in the U.S and less than 2 percent of immigrants who were checked have a criminal record.
State & Local
California Governor Appoints the State’s First Latino Attorney General
California Governor Jerry Brown nominated Congress Xavier Becerra (D – Los Angeles) to serve as the state’s next attorney general. Becerra, who as the House Democratic Caucus Chairman is the highest-ranking Latino in Congress, will succeed Kamala Harris, who won the California race for U.S. Senate in November. He will also be the first Latino to serve as attorney general of California.
Florida Senate Bill Seeks to Repeal In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students
Newly elected Florida State Senator Greg Steube (R – Florida) introduced legislation that would prevent undocumented students from qualifying for in-state tuition. Senate Bill 82 would repeal a 2014 state law that allows undocumented students to qualify for such tuition if they attended a secondary school in Florida for three consecutive years immediately before graduating from high school and applied to college no later than two years after high school graduation.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Office of the Inspector General: Better Safeguards Are Needed in USCIS Green Card Issuance, November 16, 2016
This report from DHS’s Office of Inspector General revealed that some individuals received green cards containing incorrect information or that were issued in duplicate. In some cases, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) mailed the cards to wrong addresses. The report indicated that, over the past three years, USCIS received more than 200,000 complaints that cards were not delivered to applicants. Additionally, more than 2,400 immigrants approved for two-year conditional resident status mistakenly received cards that were valid for 10 years. The report comes after March review that showed that the agency sent potentially hundreds of green cards to the wrong addresses.
Congressional Research Service: Barriers Along the U.S. Borders: Key Authorities and Requirements, November 18, 2016 (by Michael John Garcia)
This report examines the statutory framework governing the deployment of fencing and other barriers along the U.S. international borders. It provides a summary of the key statutory authorities and requirements regulating DHS’s construction of barriers along the borders. The report also includes appendixes listing federal laws that have been waived by DHS in furtherance of border construction projects. The report does not discuss proposals to modify the existing statutory framework or to fund an expansion of border fencing.
Congressional Research Service: Legal Sidebar: Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Aliens’ Detention Pending Removal Proceeding, November 28, 2016
This Legal Sidebar is related to the Jennings v. Rodriguez case, which could have significant implications for the executive branch’s practice of detaining certain aliens while simultaneously seeking removal orders against them. Specifically, it explains the legal issues in Jennings and explores what the Supreme Court’s decision could mean for detention practices specifically and immigration law more generally.
Congressional Research Service: Legal Sidebar: The Obama Administration’s 2014 Immigration Initiative: Looking Back at What the Obama Administration Has Done– and Ahead to the Trump Administration, November 22, 2016
This Legal Sidebar summarizes various immigration-related actions announced by President Obama on November 20, 2014, and their implementation. It also briefly discusses what a Trump administration would need to do to reverse the actions.
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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.