Legislative Bulletin – Friday, January 13, 2017

Policy and Advocacy Associate

January 13, 2017

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

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

S. 128

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. This is the companion bill for H.R. 496.

Sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham (R – South Carolina) (6 cosponsors)

01/12/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Graham

S. 127

A bill to provide provisional protected presence to qualified individuals who came to the United States as children

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

01/12/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Flake

H.R. 391

Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act

This bill would modify the “credible fear” standard for asylum seekers to make it more difficult to achieve relief. It would also modify provisions of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) that govern the treatment of unaccompanied alien children in federal custody.

Sponsored by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R – Utah) (17 cosponsors)

01/10/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Chaffetz

01/10/2017 Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, House Judiciary and House Foreign Affairs

H.R. 392

Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act

This bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate the per-country numerical limitation for employment-based immigrants, to increase the per-country numerical limitation for family-sponsored immigrants.

Sponsored by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R – Utah) (25 cosponsors)

01/10/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Chaffetz

01/10/2017 Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 454

A bill to amend the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to complete the required 700-mile southwest border fencing by December 31, 2017

Sponsored by Representative Dennis A. Ross (R – Florida) (0 cosponsors)

01/11/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Ross

01/11/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security

H.R.483

A bill to amend title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to prohibit the provision of funds under such title to institutions of higher education that violate the immigration laws

Sponsored by Representative Duncan D. Hunter (R – California) (13 cosponsors)

01/12/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Hunter

01/12/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce

H.R.496

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. This is the companion bill for the S. 128.

Sponsored by Representative Mike Coffman (R – Colorado) (7 cosponsors)

01/11/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Coffman

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session on Friday, January 20, 2017.

The U.S. Senate will be in session from Tuesday, January 17, 2017 through Friday, January 20, 2017.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Secretary of Education Nomination

Date: Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 5 p.m. (Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions)

Location: 430 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Witness:

Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education Nominee

Secretary of Health and Human Services

Date: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 10 a.m. (Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions)

Location: 430 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Witness:

Dr. Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services Nominee

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearings on Sen. Sessions for Attorney General

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a two-day hearing on January 10 and 11 to consider the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R – Alabama) to serve as the next U.S. Attorney General. Testifying on January 10, Sessions declined to commit to protecting young people who received deferred action under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which he has previously expressed. Sessions characterized DACA as constitutionally “questionable” and signaled that he favored repeal of the initiative.  Sessions also said he would not support a Muslim registry for U.S. citizens, but favored Trump’s proposal for “extreme vetting” of immigrants coming from dangerous countries, an approach that would likely focus on Muslim-majority countries.

Sessions, who was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump during his presidential campaign, was has been an outspoken opponent of multiple Senate immigration reform efforts in his two decades in the Senate. As Attorney General, Sessions would oversee the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the Board of Immigration Appeals and have a role in shaping policies affecting immigration matters that come under the U.S. Department of Justice’s purview.

General Kelly Testifies at Confirmation Hearing

Retired Marine General John F. Kelly, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security, testified at his confirmation hearing on January 10 before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. At the hearing, Kelly pledged that his highest priority “would be to close the border to the illegal movement of people and things.” He testified that the border needs to be secured through a layered defense, noting that a physical barrier, such as a border wall, is necessary but “will in and of itself will not do the job.” He noted that other parts of building a layered defense include using technology at the border and working with Mexico and countries in Central America to reduce the push and pull factors that cause people to migrate.

Kelly also testified that he would “look long and hard” and “keep an open mind” DACA, particularly on referring the information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). When Sen. Kamala Harris (D – California) asked whether DACA recipients and law-abiding undocumented immigrants would be a priority for deportation, Kelly answered that DACA recipients “might not” be the highest priority and that law-abiding undocumented immigrants would also “probably not” be at the top of the list. In addition, Kelly said that he had “given no thought to the topic of a deportation force” and noted that he will follow the law in regards to sanctuary cities. Finally, in response to a question on creating a biometric entry/exit system, Kelly noted that the system could be used to track visa over-stayers and potentially send someone to their house.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, noted that he hopes Kelly will be confirmed by the Senate on or near Inauguration Day.

Tillerson Doesn’t Support Muslim Ban; DeVos and Price’s Hearings Delayed

In his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, January 11, Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, expressed his opposition to implementing a “blanket-type rejection” of Muslims or any other group of people. Later in the hearing, Tillerson, a former Exxon executive, added that the U.S. will need to rely on moderate Muslims around the world in its fight against terrorism.

This week, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, announced that hearings on the nominations of Betsy DeVos and Rep. Tom Price (R – Georgia) would be delayed to January 17 and January 18, respectively. President-elect Trump nominated DeVos to serve as Secretary of Education and nominated Price to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Bipartisan BRIDGE Act Introduced in Senate, House

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to provide temporary protection for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children. The Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (the BRIDGE) Act, which was originally introduced in December, would also provide work authorization for those who have received or are eligible for DACA. At the same time, Representatives Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) and Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois) introduced companion legislation in the House.

Obama Repeals “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” Policy for Cubans

On January 12, the Obama administration announced it was ending the longstanding policy allowing Cubans reaching U.S. soil to become legal residents. The repeal of the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy, which will be one of the final foreign policy initiatives taken by the current administration, follows months of negotiations focused in part on convincing Cuba to agree to accept its citizens returning from the U.S.

Under the longstanding policy, Cubans received temporary “parole” status upon reaching the U.S. Combined with the terms of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, Cubans were then eligible for permanent resident status after one year. The end of the Cold War-era policy follows the Obama administration’s initiative to begin normalizing relations with Cuba, which was first announced in late 2014.

Trump Pledges Mexico Will Pay for the Wall, Mexico Says It Will Not

President-elect Donald Trump vowed on January 10 to begin construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border soon after his January 20 inauguration, but pledged that Mexico will “reimburse” the United States for constructing the wall. Trump said at the press conference that negotiations on how Mexico will pay for the wall will start immediately after he is sworn into office, but could last up to a year-and-a-half. He wants to start building the wall immediately, therefore Mexico will have to reimburse the United States.  Earlier, Trump transition officials asked Congress to provide wall funding through the appropriations process. In response, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said on January 11 that Mexico would “absolutely not pay for” the wall.

State & Local

D.C. to Create ‘Legal Defense Fund’ for Undocumented Residents

On January 9, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced the city’s plan to create a legal defense fund for the estimated 25,000 undocumented residents in D.C. The $500,000 fund will provide grants to local defense lawyers, private and non-profit organizations to represent undocumented and legal immigrants. The money is expected to shift from the city’s Office on Latino Affairs to the new Immigrant Justice Legal Services Grant Program. Under this fund, undocumented residents will be able to apply for asylum and green card holders will be able to apply for U.S. citizenship.

The Immigrant Justice Legal Services Grant Program will benefit the roughly 500 DACA recipients in the city with legal services. The fund will also take donations from groups and individuals. Groups can apply for grants starting January 23.

New ID Cards to Ease Life for Undocumented in South Bend, IN

In collaboration with the city and local businesses, a nonprofit Latino advocacy group introduced a new non-governmental identification card, which aims to help undocumented immigrants living in South Bend, Indiana. Although the South Bend Community Resident Card, called “SB ID” won’t be considered an official legal ID, the nonprofit hopes that it will be accepted by businesses for everyday errands such as picking up children from school or day care, receiving college transcripts, bank statements and pharmacy prescriptions, and others. The card is expected to appeal to the estimated 4,000 undocumented immigrants in the city.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

U.S. Government Accountability Office: Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of Post-Apprehension Consequences, January 12, 2017

This Government Accountability Office (GAO) report provides review and assessment of the U.S. Border Patrol’s implementation of its Consequence Delivery System (CDS) across the U.S. southwest border. Specifically, the report examines three main areas – the extent to which Border Patrol has a methodology for calculating recidivism that allows it to assess CDS program effectiveness; applied consequences it determined to be most effective and efficient in each southwest border sector; and established guidance and controls to monitor field implementation of CDS.

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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 zjerabek@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.