Legislative Bulletin – Friday, January 19, 2018
Policy and Advocacy Associate
January 19, 2018
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act
This bill would provide relief from removal and adjustment of status of certain individuals who are long-term United States residents and who entered the United States before reaching the age of 18. It also seeks to improve border security and foster United States engagement in Central America.
Sponsored by Representative Will Hurd (R-TX) (52 cosponsors – 25 R, 27 D)
1/16/2018 Introduced in House by Representative Hurd
1/16/2018 Referred to the Committees on the Judiciary, Homeland Security, Education and the Workforce, Energy and Commerce, and Foreign Affairs
No Federal Funding to Benefit Sanctuary Cities Act
This bill seeks to ensure that State and local law enforcement cooperate with Federal officials on interior immigration enforcement.
Sponsored by Representative Luke Messer (R-IN) (0 cosponsors)
1/16/2018 Introduced in House by Representative Messer
1/16/2018 Referred to the Committees on the Judiciary, and Oversight and Government Reform
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, January 22, 2018.
The U.S. House of Representatives will be out of session during the week of Monday, January 22, 2018.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
In this hearing, committee members will discuss reauthorization of Higher Education Act, which provides American students, including immigrants, with a number of federal student aid and other programs.
Date: Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 10 a.m. (Senate HELP)
Location: 430 Dirksen Senate Office Building
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
Government Shutdown Looms as DACA Fight Continues
A government shutdown appears imminent as Senate Democrats and Republicans struggle to reach a funding agreement that includes an acceptable legislative fix for Dreamers. If the Senate fails to pass a continuing resolution (CR) by midnight on Friday, January 19, the federal government will shut down. The House passed a funding bill late in the evening of Thursday, January 18, but it did not include a legislative fix for Dreamers. Some Senators have endorsed passing a short-term CR that funds the government for several days to provide more time for negotiations on immigration, but Republican leadership in the Senate has rebuked the idea. It appears that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) does not have enough votes to get to 60, the number needed to pass a CR, as several members of his own party are joining with Democrats in opposing a CR that fails to include a DACA fix. McConnell has insisted that there is no urgency on reaching a DACA solution because the program will not end until March 5, but Democrats have argued that over 16,000 Dreamers have already lost their protective status with more losing their status each day. It was reported that early Friday afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) was invited to a meeting with President Trump at the White House, but the outcome of the meeting appears to be inconclusive.
USCIS Resumes DACA Amid DOJ’s Efforts to Petition the Supreme Court
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has resumed accepting DACA renewal applications following a ruling by a federal judge that blocked the termination of the program by the Trump administration. The administration terminated the program on September 5, 2017, and gave Congress a deadline of March 5 to pass a legislative solution protecting Dreamers. In response to the ruling, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has asked for an immediate review by the Supreme Court to speed up the appeal process. If granted, the immediate review request would elevate the case directly to the Supreme Court instead of having to go through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The action comes as Congress nears a government shutdown over a struggle to find a compromise on a solution for Dreamers, and other issues.
Trump Administration Releases New Guidelines for Immigration Courts
The Trump administration published a memo on January 17, setting new priorities for U.S. immigration courts. In the seven-page documents, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) directs the courts to prioritize cases of detainees in immigration jail, aiming to finish at least 85 percent of these cases within two months, along with cases with deadlines established by law. The administration’s goal is to close 85 percent of cases for immigrants free in the U.S. within a year. The U.S. immigration backlog currently stands at nearly 660,000 cases.
Haitians No Longer Eligible for Temporary Work Visas
On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced that Haitians would no longer be eligible to apply for H-2A temporary agricultural or H-2B temporary nonagricultural visas. The administration cited high levels of fraud, abuse, and overstay rates as reasons for removing Haiti from the list of over 80 eligible countries. In fiscal year 2016, a total of 65 Haitians entered the country on H-2A visas, and only a handful came on H-2B visas. Granting Haitians the opportunity to work in the United States was seen by many advocates as an important part of the recovery process following the 2010 earthquake that devastated the island nation, as workers would send remittances back to their families in Haiti. Belize and Samoa were also removed from the H-2A and H-2B eligibility list. The decision comes less than a week after President Trump’s alleged hostile comments against Haiti, El Salvador, and the 54 African countries.
Federal Immigration Enforcement Sweep Planned for Northern California
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have announced plans to conduct major operations in Northern California, aiming to arrest over 1,500 undocumented immigrants. ICE has said the enforcement campaign would target those with final departure orders or criminal backgrounds, as well as any other undocumented immigrants they may come across, even those with no criminal history. The action is seen by many as a retaliatory effort by ICE against California in the wake of Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of a “sanctuary state” bill that limits state and local law enforcement from complying with ICE detainer requests. Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan recently called for the criminal prosecution of politicians in localities that enact sanctuary legislation and promised an increase in enforcement operations in California in response to the new law. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) strongly criticized the decision, saying “the administration is carrying out its enforcement actions to make a political point and not based on the security of the country.”
DOJ and DHS Releases Terrorism Report
The Trump administration released a report on Tuesday, January 16, attempting to link immigrants to terrorism. The report published jointly by Departments of Justice and Homeland security claims that the vast majority of people, who were convicted of international terrorism charges in the U.S. over the past 15 years, were born in abroad. It highlights cases of immigrants linked to terrorism plots after coming to the U.S. under the diversity visa lottery program, or due to family tie and concludes that three out of four individuals convicted of “international” terrorism or terrorism-related charges were born outside the U.S. Many analysts found the report confusing and somewhat misleading. The Cato Institute pointed out it “produces little new information on immigration and terrorism and portrays some misleading and meaningless statistics as important findings.” Others also noted that the report fails to connect the foreign-born terrorism convictions with programs like the diversity visa lottery program and “chain migration.”
Supreme Court to Review Travel Ban
On January 19, the Supreme Court agreed to review a legal challenge to President Trump’s latest version of the travel ban on the merits. The Supreme Court previously ruled on December 4, 2017 that President Trump’s travel ban could go into effect while litigation over the policy continues in the courts. The travel ban bars entry into the U.S. of certain individuals from Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad, Somalia, North Korea and Venezuela. In June 2017, the Supreme Court issued a decision on a previous version of the ban that exempted those with “bona fide relationships” with U.S. persons or entities from being barred from the U.S.
State & Local
Florida Law Enforcement Agencies Rolls Out Expansion of 287(g) Program
Seventeen law enforcement offices in Florida agreed to cooperate with federal government on immigration enforcement. During a press conference on Wednesday, January 17, the officials revealed a new plan allowing jail operators to legally comply with federal detainer requests that have drawn lawsuits in other regions. The protocol, which is eventually planned to be rolled out nationwide, permits local agencies to hold undocumented immigrants who have been arrested for other crimes in custody for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It is an expansion of the 287(g) program, a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to train local and state law enforcement agents in federal immigration laws. Officials stressed that the new policy will target apprehended immigrants and those with criminal records.
Congressional Research Service Overview of “Travel Ban” Litigation and Recent Developments, January 10, 2018 (by Hillel R. Smith and Ben Harrington)
This Sidebar provides a summary of the two executive orders and a presidential proclamation, commonly referred to as the “Travel Ban,” restricting entry of certain immigrants into the United States, and the litigation related to those actions. It also addresses the more recent executive action issued on October 24, 2017, which announced the general resumption of refugee admissions into the U.S.
Congressional Research Service District Court Enjoins DACA Phase-Out: Explanation and Takeaways, January 11, 2018 (by Michael John Garcia)
This Sidebar explains legal issues raised by litigation over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative.
Congressional Research Service UPDATE: The End of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program: Some Immediate Takeaways, January 16, 2018 (by Hillel R. Smith)
This Sidebar is an update of the original post published on September 8, 2017, after the Trump Administration announced termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES
This is a summary of the Uniting and Securing America Act (USA) Act, H.R. 4796, which was introduced by Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Pete Aguilar (D-California) on January 16, 2018, with 48 bipartisan original cosponsors. The bill would provide Dreamers who have lived in the U.S. for at least four years, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, with the opportunity to earn permanent legal status if they pursue higher education, enlist in the military or are gainfully employed, and meet other requirements. It would also strengthen America’s border security through the use of technology, investments in ports of entry, and development of a comprehensive southern border strategy, among other effective border security measures.
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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 email@example.com. Thank you.