Legislative Bulletin – Friday, February 24, 2017
Policy and Advocacy Associate
February 24, 2017
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
Visa Investigation and Social Media Act (VISA) of 2017
This bill would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review each immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicant’s publicly available social media activity, interview each applicant aged eleven years or older, and require applicants to provide English translations of their documentation.
Sponsored by Representative Jim Banks (R – Indiana) (0 cosponsors)
02/16/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Banks
02/16/2017 Referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary and Homeland Security
A Bill to Amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to Make Changes Related to Family-Sponsored Immigrants and to Reduce the Number of Such Immigrants, and for Other Purposes
Sponsored by Representative Jody Hice (R – Georgia) (7 cosponsors)
02/16/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Hice
02/16/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
A Bill to Amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to Eliminate the Diversity Immigrant Program
Sponsored by Representative Bill Posey (R – Florida) (8 cosponsors)
02/16/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Posey
02/16/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, February 27, 2017 through Thursday, March 2, 2017.
The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, February 27, 2017.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
Date: Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs)
Location: 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Members of Congress will provide testimony in this hearing on appropriations for the agencies and programs in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Date: Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. (House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security)
Location: 2008 Rayburn House Office Building
Date: Monday, March 20, 2017 (Senate Judiciary)
Neil M. Gorsuch, Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
DHS Releases New Memoranda Emphasizing Enforcement and Deportations
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released two memoranda on February 21 to implement President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders on interior enforcement and border security that upend current immigration policies. The new guidelines on interior enforcement, signed by DHS Secretary John Kelly, clarify the expansion of immigration enforcement priorities that in effect make most undocumented immigrants in the United States a priority for deportation. The memo also clarifies the expansion of the 287(g) program to promote local law enforcement’s role enforcing federal immigration laws, despite local law enforcement’s limited resources, and calls for the hiring of 10,000 more immigration enforcement officers. The DHS memo on border security removes legal protections for unaccompanied children with a parent in the United States, directs immigration officers to intensify their screening for asylum seekers and paves the way to expand the use of expedited removal to all parts of the country and to undocumented immigrants who cannot prove they have resided in the United States for at least two years, which allows DHS to immediately deport undocumented immigrants without an opportunity for them to make their case before an immigration judge. The memo also specifies that all undocumented immigrants crossing the Southwest border must be placed in detention. The memoranda do not revoke Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), but DACA recipients are subject to deportation if they fall into one of the broad enforcement priorities.
Concerns Raised About DHS Memos
Two Republican lawmakers voiced concerns about the new immigration policies on interior enforcement and border security released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on February 21. Representatives Carlos Curbelo (R – Florida) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R – Florida) noted at a February 21 event in Miami that there is a “broad consensus” to deport people who commit violent crimes, but expressed worries that, as Ros-Lehtinen said, “when you cast a wide net…you’re going to catch a lot of good people.” Curbelo said that the focus should be on deporting dangerous criminals and encouraged the administration to “keep families together as much as possible.” Also, the Bernalillo County Sherriff’s Office in New Mexico said that the new policies, which designate almost all undocumented immigrants as a priority for deportation, could lead local law enforcement to expend valuable resources to enforce federal immigration laws instead of taking care of “day-to-day duties.”
In addition, on February 22, the Mexican Government indicated that it would not cooperate with the implementation of the executive orders before a visit from DHS Secretary Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Mexico City. The DHS implementation memo on border security calls for returning immigrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border back to Mexico, even if they are not from Mexico but had merely passed through.
Lawmakers Visit the Border and Sen. Cornyn Notes Challenges of a Border Wall
Republican lawmakers visited the U.S.-Mexico border on February 20 and 22 to examine the challenges of constructing a wall along the 2,000 miles of the Southwest border. Senator John Cornyn (R – Texas) visited the border in the Rio Grande Valley on February 20 with a half-dozen Senate and House Republicans, including Senator Thom Tillis (R – North Carolina), Senator Dean Heller (R – Nevada), and Representative John Carter (R – Texas). On February 22, House Speaker Paul Ryan visited the U.S.-Mexico border with Representatives John Carter and Michael McCaul (R – Texas). Ryan’s visit came just weeks before President Donald Trump is expected to formally ask Congress for a spending bill to fund construction of a wall along the Southwest border. Nonetheless, Senator Cornyn noted on February 22 that building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is not the best option for some areas of the border, stating “there’s parts of our border which [a wall] makes absolutely no sense.” He argued that technology is a better “force multiplier” for securing the border.
President Trump’s Revised Travel Ban Executive Order Expected Next Week
The White House announced on February 22 it would delay the release of the revised executive order on refugees and immigration until sometime next week. The original executive order barring nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries and all refugees from entering the United States was blocked by a federal court. The revised policy is expected to be tailored to comply with court rulings and expressly exempt green card holders from the travel ban.
Detainee With Brain Tumor Returns to Detention Center
An undocumented immigrant who was diagnosed with a brain tumor while in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody was returned to a detention center after being discharged from a hospital. The mother of two, Sara Beltran-Hernandez, had been detained since November 2015 after she tried to migrate to New York City without proper authorization. Beltran-Hernandez was taken to Texas Health Huguley Hospital on February 11 after she collapsed at the ICE facility this month after experiencing severe headaches, nosebleeds and memory loss. She is currently on a surgery waitlist surgery. Attorneys for Beltran-Hernandez allege that she was “tied up” from her hands and ankles as she was escorted out of the hospital.
CBP Inspects Identification Documents for All Passengers Exiting Domestic Flight from San Francisco to New York City
On February 22, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) officers requested identification documents for all passengers exiting a domestic flight from San Francisco to New York City. CBP confirmed in a statement the next day that its officers examined passengers exiting the Delta flight 1538 in an attempt to find an undocumented immigrant who had been ordered deported by an immigration judge. Although CBP has authority to inspect passengers “entering or leaving” the United States, CBP’s authority to examine the identity document of domestic passengers is not clear. CBP confirmed that the person the officers were looking for was not on the plane.
State & Local
Harris County, Texas to End Participation in Federal 287(g) Program
Sheriff Ed Gonzalez from Harris County in Texas, which includes Houston, is withdrawing from participation in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s 287(g) program, which gives local law enforcement officers authority and training to enforce federal immigration law. Gonzales cited cost as the reason for the program’s termination. He plans to reallocate the $675,000 saved from withdrawing from the program to other public safety issues. The county will continue to cooperate with ICE, but all immigration actions will strictly be carried out by federal immigration authorities. With Harris County’s withdrawal, only three counties out of 254 in Texas remain in the voluntary program.
Congressional Research Service: The DACA and DAPA Deferred Action Initiatives: Frequently Asked Questions, February 15, 2017 (by Andorra Bruno)
This CRS report provides a brief summary of DACA and DAPA and answers to frequently asked questions.
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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.