Legislative Bulletin – Friday, January 6, 2017

Policy and Advocacy Associate

January 6, 2017

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

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

H.R. 60

Encourage New Legalized Immigrants to Start Training (Enlist) Act

The bill permits otherwise qualified undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children to earn legal status through military service.

Sponsored by Representative Jeff Denham (R – California) (29 cosponsors)

01/03/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Denham

01/03/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services

H.R. 120

A Bill to Reduce the Amount of Foreign Assistance to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador Based on the Number of Unaccompanied Alien Children who are Nationals or Citizens of Such Countries and who in the Preceding Fiscal Year are Placed in Federal Custody by Reason of their Immigration Status.

Sponsored by Representative Michael Burgess (R – Texas) (0 cosponsors)

01/03/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Burgess

01/03/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

H.R. 140

The Birthright Citizenship Act of 2017

The bill amends section 301 of the Immigration Nationality Act (INA) to clarify classes of individuals born in the United States who are nationals and citizens at birth. The bill states that a person born in the United States shall be considered ‘subject to the jurisdiction’ of the United States if the person is born in the United States of at least one parent who is 1) a citizen or national of the United States, 2) a lawful permanent resident in the United States and 3) an immigrant performing service in the armed forces.

Sponsored by Representative Steve King (R – Iowa) (12 cosponsors)

01/03/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative King

01/03/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 170

Protect and Grow American Jobs Act

This bill modifies the definition of “exempt H-1B nonimmigrant” in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to raise the salary requirement to $100,000 a year, up from $60,000, and eliminate the Master’s Degree exemption

Sponsored by Representative Darrell Issa (R – California) (6 cosponsors)

01/03/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Issa

01/03/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 174

Sarah’s Law

This bill requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to take into custody certain aliens who have been charged in the United States with a crime that resulted in the death or serious bodily injury of another person.

Sponsored by Representative Steve King (R – Iowa) (12 cosponsors)

01/03/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative King

01/03/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 178

Religious Worker Visa Reciprocity Act of 2017

The bill requires countries of origin of certain special immigrant religious workers to extend reciprocal immigration treatment to nationals of the United States.

Sponsored by Representative Steve King (R – Iowa) (0 cosponsors)

01/03/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative King

01/03/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 278

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, 2016 [sic] and for Other Purposes.

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

01/04/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Ross

01/04/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security

H.R. 281

A Bill to Amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to Simplify the Petitioning Procedure for H-2A Workers, to Expand the Scope of the H-2A program, and for Other Purposes.

Sponsored by Representative Elise Stefanik (R – New York) (0 cosponsors)

01/04/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Stefanik

01/04/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R.___

New Illegal Deduction Elimination Act (IDEA)

This bill makes wages and benefits paid to undocumented immigrants nondeductible for federal tax purposes, requires the permanent use of E-Verify and creates an information-sharing system between the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to verify employment authorization.

Sponsored by Representative Steve King (R – Iowa) (0 cosponsors)

01/03/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative King

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, January 9, 2016.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Attorney General Nomination

Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017 and Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 9:30 a.m. (Senate Judiciary)

Location: 325 Russell Senate Office Building

Witnesses: 

Senator Jeff Sessions, Attorney General of the United States Nominee

Additional witnesses TBA

Secretary of Homeland Security Nomination

Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. (Senate Homeland Security)

Location: 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Witness:

General John F. Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security Nominee

Secretary of Education Nomination

Date: Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. (Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions)

Location: 430 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Witness:

Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education Nominee

Secretary of State Nomination

Date: January 11, 2017 (Senate Foreign Relations)

Location: TBD

Witness:

Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State Nominee

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Confirmation Hearings Set for Sessions, Kelly

The Senate is scheduled to hold confirmation hearings next week for key members of President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, starting with the confirmation hearing for Senator Jeff Sessions (R – Alabama), Trump’s nominee for U.S. Attorney General. Sessions’ hearing is slated to begin in the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, January 10 and continue on Wednesday, January 11. However, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – California), the Committee’s Ranking Member, has argued that the Committee needs more time to study Sessions’ record. Feinstein noted that Sessions omitted key documents and information from the attorney general questionnaire he submitted to the Committee for his confirmation hearings, including information relating to Sessions’ unsuccessful 1986 confirmation for a federal judgeship.

The confirmation hearing for General John F. Kelly to serve as Homeland Security Secretary is also scheduled for Wednesday, January 11. Kelly will testify before the Senate’s Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

Trump Transition Team Meets with Homeland Security Officials

President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team met with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials on December 5 to discuss the presidential transition. During the discussion, the transition team asked DHS to review all assets available for border wall and barrier construction. In response, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) provided information identifying 413 miles along the U.S.-Mexico border and a similar distance along the U.S.-Canada border were new fencing could be erected. CBP estimates that adding 413 miles of fencing in the southwest border would cost an estimate of $11 billion. The transition team also asked about expanding Operation Phalanx, an aerial surveillance program that authorizes 1,200 Army National Guard airmen to monitor the border for drug trafficking and undocumented immigrants. The program employed 6,000 airmen under President George W. Bush, but was scaled back by the Obama administration.

In addition, the transition team requested copies of every executive order and directive sent to immigration agents since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the November 2014 executive actions on immigration. During the presidential campaign, President-elect Trump promised to repeal President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. At one point in the discussion, the transition team inquired whether federal workers have altered biographic information kept by DHS about immigrants out of concerns for their civil liberties. The transition team also posed questions about the department’s capacity for expanding immigration detention.

Trump, Congressional Republicans Look to Discretionary Spending to Pay for Border Wall

President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has signaled to congressional Republican leaders that the Trump administration would like to fund a border wall between the United States and Mexico through the appropriations process as soon as April 2017. The incoming administration plans to use the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which authorizes the construction of 700 miles of a double-fencing “physical barrier” on the southern border, to complete the wall. Although the law does not include a sunset provision, it would require additional funding from Congress to complete. As a result, congressional Republicans are considering adding funding for the wall to the must-pass spending bill to fund the government at the end of April.

Cost estimates to build the wall range from a few billion dollars to $14 billion, not including maintenance of the wall, salaries for border patrol agents and compensation for private landowners along the border on whose property the wall would be built. President-elect Trump vowed during his campaign to build a “great wall” in the U.S.-Mexico border, which Mexico would pay for. On January 6, Trump issued a tweet pledging that Mexico would pay back the United States for constructing the wall.

Furthermore, congressional Republicans are also considering passing a border-security package in the spring or summer. The plan would incorporate new provisions into previous border bills passed by the House Homeland Security Committee and some passed by the full House in 2014 and 2015.

Obama Administration Ends NSEERS Program

The Obama administration announced on December 22 that it was removing regulations pertaining to the National Security Entry-Exit Registration Systems (NSEERS) program. The registry, which was created after the attacks of September 11, 2001, was used to track male visitors from 25 countries, 24 of which were Muslim-majority. The move to remove the regulations effectively ends the program, which had been effectively dormant since 2011 after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) delisted all countries covered under the program.

A 2012 report by the DHS Office of Inspector General determined that NSEERS was redundant, inefficient and provided no increase in security. The program was devised in part by Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and a member of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, during the George W. Bush administration. In December 2016, Kobach was photographed with a document of first-year proposals that included a proposal to reintroduce the registry program. President-elect Trump pledged on the campaign trail to set up a registry for Muslims and impose a ban and/or “extreme vetting” on Muslim visitors.

Johnson: Do Not Use DACA Data for Deportations; Obama: Consider DACA Beneficiaries

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson stressed in a letter on December 30 that federal authorities should not use the private information of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients to detain and deport them. Johnson noted in the letter that the U.S. government made a representation to the applicants that the use of their personal identifying information would be collected and considered for the primary purpose of adjudicating their DACA request and safeguarded from other immigration-related purposes. Johnson’s letter was sent in response to a letter cosigned by more than 100 House Democratic lawmakers who urged President Barack Obama to shield the names and personal information of DACA recipients before the new administration takes office. President-elect Donald Trump pledged to revoke the program during the presidential campaign.

In addition, Obama told House and Senate Democrats in a Capitol Hill meeting on January 4 that he spoke to Trump directly about beneficiaries of DACA, noting that the recipients are “good” individuals who were brought to the United States at a young age. Obama also told Trump to consider the optics of deporting DACA recipients. Senator Dick Durbin (D – Illinois) said after the meeting that Obama felt strongly about DACA recipients and would not step away from the responsibility of saying something if necessary on the issue.

Legal

Georgia Judge Rules in Support of In-State Tuition for DACA Recipients

A Georgia state judge ruled on December 30 that the state must permit recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities. Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Gail Tusan ruled that the Georgia Board of Regents must accept “the federally established lawful presence” of students who have been granted DACA. Georgia state colleges and universities must require students to verify their “lawful presence” in the state to qualify for in-state tuition. The board’s current policy says that students with DACA do not meet the Georgia requirement of lawful presence. The board announced on January 3 that it would appeal the Judge Tusan’s decision and maintain the current in-state tuition policy during the appeals process. In addition, Republican state lawmakers in the legislature are planning to introduce a measure that would bar DACA recipients from paying in-state tuition. Many states currently allow undocumented immigrants to obtain in-state tuition at state colleges and universities.

Texas Immigrant Harboring Bill Goes to Appeals Court

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on January 4 in a lawsuit challenging a provision in House Bill 11, a border security bill passed by the Texas legislature in 2015. Under that provision, people commit a crime if they encourage or induce a person to enter or remain in the United States without proper documentation and conceal, harbor, or shield that person from detection. Opponents of the law claim that the provision is a violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which has been interpreted to require that immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility.

The law’s opponents have asserted that the provision is an unconstitutional overreach that improperly would subject landlords to prosecution for renting to undocumented tenants and that it could disrupt the work of nonprofits that run homeless and refugee shelters across the state. In April 2016, U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra enjoined Texas from enforcing the provision, determining that plaintiffs were likely to succeed on their Supremacy Clause claims and would suffer irreparable harm if that provision went into effect. The hearing came days before the new legislative session in Texas begins. The state’s role in immigration enforcement is expected to be a major issue in the new legislative term.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Congressional Research Service: Alien Registration Requirements: Obama Administration Removes Certain Regulations, but Underlying Statutory Authority Remains, January 5, 2017

This legal sidebar reviews the legal authorities that underlay the implementation of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), as well as the authorities that remain available to the Executive notwithstanding the recent rule change on December 23, 2016 to remove regulations relied upon in implementing NSEERS.

* * *

*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 cpenichetpaul@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.