Legislative Bulletin – Friday, December 9, 2016
Policy and Advocacy Associate
December 9, 2016
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
Further Continuing and Security Assistance Appropriations Act, 2017
The bill funds the government at the current spending levels until April 28, 2017 and extends the reauthorization of the EB-5 Regional Center Immigrant Investor Program, the Non-minister Special Immigrant Religious Workers (SR) visa and the Conrad State 30 Program.
Sponsored by Representative Michael Simpson (R – Idaho) (0 cosponsors)
04/24/2015 Introduced in the House by Representative Simpson
12/08/2016 Amended to Function as a Continuing Resolution
12/08/2016 Passed the House by a 326 to 96 vote
A Bill to Prohibit Any Entity that Receives Federal Funds and Does Not Comply with a Lawful Request for Information or Detainment of an Alien Made by Any Officer or Employee of the Federal Government who is Charged with Enforcement of the Immigration Laws from Receiving Additional Funding
Sponsored by Representative Andy Harris (R – Maryland) (34 cosponsors)
12/07/2016 Introduced in the House by Representative Harris
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 in the Senate by Senator McCain
11/30/2016 Conference Report Filed
12/02/2016 Passed the House by a 375 to 34 vote
12/08/2016 Passed the Senate by a 92 to 7 vote
A Bill to Amend the Homeland Security Act of 2012 to Facilitate Communication between U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Border Ranchers in Arizona and Other Border State and for Other Purposes
Sponsored by Senator Jeff Flake (R – Arizona) (0 cosponsors)
12/07/2016 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Flake
The Bridge Act (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy)
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 from enactment. Those who are eligible for DACA could also apply for such protections.
Sponsored by Senators Richard Durbin (D – Illinois), Lindsey Graham (R – South Carolina), Lisa Murkowski (R – Alaska) and Dianne Feinstein (D – California) and Senator Jeff Flake (R – Arizona)
12/09/2016 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Graham
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. House of Representatives is on recess until January 3, 2017.
The U.S. Senate is expected to be on recess until January 3, 2017.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
There are no hearings or markups scheduled for the week that ends on Friday, December 16, 2016.
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
Trump Picks General John Kelly for DHS, Fast-Food Executive Puzder for Labor
On December 7, President-elect Donald Trump announced his nomination of John F. Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, to serve as the next Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Kelly is a former Commander of the U.S. Southern Command, a position responsible for providing contingency and security planning for Central and South America and the Caribbean, through which he was exposed to immigration, drug trafficking and border-related issues. Kelly is known for supporting strong border security mechanisms, making him a key player in Trump’s plans to secure the border and eliminate undocumented immigration. Kelly’s stances on interior enforcement and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are unclear.
Trump also selected fast-food executive Andrew F. Puzder, the Chief Executive Officer of CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc., as his nominee for the Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary. Puzder’s company franchises the fast-food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. He has criticized the Obama administration’s labor policies and has opposed raising the federal minimum wage. In the area of immigration policy, Puzder has publicly expressed empathy for undocumented immigrants and noted the need for immigration reform.
House Votes to Fund Government, Senate Vote Scheduled Amid Objections; NDAA Goes to Obama
The House voted 326 to 96 on December 8 to pass a short-term spending bill, or continuing resolution, to fund the government at the current spending levels until April 28, 2017. The Senate is scheduled to take a procedural vote to move forward on the spending bill at 1 a.m. on December 10 – technically an hour after the government runs out of funding. Yet, Senator Joe Manchin (D – West Virginia) is threating to hold up the spending bill further, possibly until Monday, because it lacks a full year of funding for health care benefits and pension plans for retired coal miners. In addition to funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other government agencies responsible for overseeing immigration-related issues, the continuing resolution extends the reauthorization of the EB-5 Regional Center Immigrant Investor Program, the Non-minister Special Immigrant Religious Workers (SR) visa and the Conrad State 30 Program. The EB-5 visa program provides up to 3,000 immigrant visas annually for immigrants who make qualifying investments in commercial enterprises. The SR program provides visas to non-ministerial religious workers to come to the United States, while the Conrad State 30 Program permits foreign medical doctors on J-1 visas to work in medically underserved areas in the country. The bill extends the three visa programs until April 28.
On December 8, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2017 by 92 to 7 vote. Related to immigration, the NDAA extends the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program through 2017 and authorizes 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. The NDAA now goes to President Obama for his signature.
Graham Announces Bill to Protect Dreamers; Trump Says He Will “Work Something Out”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R – South Carolina) introduced legislation on December 9 co-sponsored by Senators Richard Durbin (D – Illinois), Lisa Murkowski (R – Alaska), Dianne Feinstein (D – California) and Jeff Flake (R – Arizona) that would protect the 740,000 young undocumented people who have received deferred action and employment authorization under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). These young people, brought to the United States as children and commonly called “Dreamers,” face deportation if President-elect Trump follows through with his campaign promise to repeal DACA. The bill, called the Bridge Act, would provide protection from deportation and work authorization to those who received DACA by creating a “provisional protected presence” that would last three years from enactment. The status would not be available only to those who currently have DACA.
Senators Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) and John McCain (R-Arizona) have also voiced their support for dealing expeditiously with the situation of Dreamers, with Flake noting that if a bill, “came up for a vote, it’d do well.” Senator Roy Blunt (R – Missouri), Vice-Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said there had not been specific discussions within the Senate Republican leadership on immigration reform, but that it was important to be “thoughtful” about young undocumented immigrants.
In an interview with Time magazine published on December 7, Trump did not back off his promise to repeal DACA, but promised to “work something out,” noting that many Dreamers “got brought [to the United States] at a very young age,” have worked and gone to school in the U.S. and are, “in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.” On December 8, Speaker Paul Ryan said that Republicans will not “pull the rug out from under” young undocumented immigrants. Ryan called for a balanced approach and said the House Judiciary Committee and the Trump transition team would have more details in the future about the timing and process of ending DACA. Meanwhile, 106 House Democrats sent a letter to President Obama on December 6 urging him to take action to protect the names and private information of those enrolled in DACA
Trump Transition Team Receives Policy Proposals to Reduce Immigration
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), one of the main supporters of reducing immigration levels, including legal immigration, sent a policy proposal to the Trump transition team, including a plan for the first 100 days of the Trump administration. The plan includes actions such as repealing President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and punishing so-called sanctuary cities to force them to take on additional immigration enforcement responsibilities.
ICE Releases Hundreds of Women and Children Following Court Ruling
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released hundreds of women and children from two family detentions centers after a December 2 decision by a Texas state court. Travis County District Court Judge Karin Crump struck down a state regulation that allowed the Karnes County Residential Center and the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas to obtain licenses to detain immigrant children. The regulation, which was created by the Texas Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS) in early 2016, exempted family detention facilities from longstanding state requirements for child care centers. The regulation had been enacted over the objections of mental health advocates who toured the detention centers and witnessed children losing weight, shedding hair and exhibiting symptoms of anxiety. In light of the court ruling, many of the detainees are relying on local service providers for temporary shelter and to help them arrange transportation.
State & Local
Texas Senate to Consider Mandatory Detainer Legislation
Lawmakers in the Texas Legislature announced on December 4 that they plan to introduce a bill in the State Senate that would require law enforcement agencies in the state, “to comply with, honor, and fulfill” detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The bill, known as Senate Bill 4, would also prohibit local entities, such as cities and counties, from adopting or enforcing policies that discourage police from inquiring about a person’s immigration status during a lawful detention. State Senator Charles Perry, the author of the legislation, said that President-elect Trump’s victory indicates that solving undocumented immigration must be a priority. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R – Texas) tweeted that he would strongly support the bill. Multiple federal courts have ruled that ICE immigration detainers violate the Fourth Amendment and expose state and local law enforcement agencies to significant legal liability.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Advisory Council: Report of the Subcommittee on Privatized Immigration Detention Facilities, December 1, 2016
This report examines U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforce (ICE)’s current policy and practice concerning the use of private immigration detention facilities and evaluates whether this practice should be eliminated. The report was supported in full by five members of the subcommittee, while seventeen members voted in support of the report subject to associating themselves with the views expressed in Footnote 14 on Page 11, which disagrees with the recommendation that reliance on private prisons should continue.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.