Legislative Bulletin – Friday, July 10, 2015

Assistant Director for Immigration Policy and Advocacy

July 10, 2015

Bills Introduced and Considered

H.R. __ (bill number yet to be assigned)

This bill would provide for Fiscal Year 2016 U.S. Department of Homeland Security appropriations.

7/8/2015 Draft bill released by House Appropriations

7/9/2015 Marked up by House Appropriations – Homeland Security Subcommittee

H.R. 3009

This bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to deny certain federal assistance to sanctuary cities.

Sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California) (16 cosponsors)

7/9/2015 Introduced in House by Rep. Hunter

7/9/2015 Referred to House Judiciary

H.R. 2942

Stop Catch and Release Act of 2015 

This bill would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to detain any alien who is unlawfully present in the United States and is arrested for certain criminal offenses.

Sponsored by Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Arizona) (28 cosponsors)

6/25/2015 Introduced in House by Rep. Salmon

6/25/2015 Referred to House Judiciary

7/9/2015 Referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security

S. 1640

The Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act

This bill, formerly known as the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (“SAFE”) Act includes several interior enforcement measures, including provisions that authorize local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws and would prevent DHS from implementing new enforcement guidelines that prioritize serious threats to public safety and national security. A companion bill, H.R. 1148, was introduced in the House.

Sponsored by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) (5 cosponsors)

6/22/2015      Introduced in the Senate by Sen. Sessions

6/22/2015      Referred to Senate Judiciary

Nominations and Confirmations

There were no significant developments on nominations or confirmations this week.

Legislative Floor Calendar

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, July 13 to Thursday, July 16, 2015.

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, July 13, 2015.

Upcoming Hearings and Markups

Oversight of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

Date: Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 10:00 a.m. (House Judiciary Committee)

Location: 2141 Rayburn House Office Building

Witnesses: The Honorable Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Securing the Maritime Border: The Future of CBP Air and Marine

Date: Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 10:00 a.m. (House Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee – Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security)

Location: 311 Cannon House Office Building

Witnesses: 

Randolph D. Alles, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Air and Marine, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

The Honorable John Roth, Inspector General, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Full Committee Markup – FY 2016 Homeland Security Bill

Date: Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 10:15 a.m. (House Appropriations Committee)

Location: 2359 Rayburn House Office Building

Weapons of Mass Destruction: Bolstering DHS to Combat Persistent Threats to America

Date: Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 2:00 p.m. (Joint Hearing: House Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee – Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies; Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications)

Location: 311 Cannon House Office Building

Witnesses: TBA

Securing the Border: Understanding Threats and Strategies for the Maritime Border

Date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015, 10:00 a.m. (Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee)

Location: 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Witnesses: 

Rear Admiral Peter J. Brown, Assistant Commander for Response Policy, U.S. Coast Guard

Randolph D. Alles, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Air and Marine, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Peter Edge, Executive Associate Director, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Themes in Washington This Week

Officials React to San Francisco Tragedy

After the tragic murder of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco on July 1, members of Congress from both parties, along with state and local officials, demanded answers. The suspect, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, had been deported on five previous occasions and had seven previous felony convictions — mostly drug-related offenses — on his criminal record. He was released in April after San Francisco declined a federal request for notification of his upcoming release, in an application of a city policy limiting local entanglement in federal immigration enforcement initiatives. Lopez-Sanchez was arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Eagle Pass, Texas in 2009 while attempting to enter the United States and had just completed a four-year sentence in federal prison for unlawful reentry before being turned over to San Francisco authorities.

In the aftermath of Steinle’s murder, sanctuary cities have faced criticism, especially from congressional Republicans, and leading Democrats have criticized San Francisco for releasing Lopez-Sanchez earlier this year. Republican leaders criticized the Obama Administration’s enforcement policies, while others have questioned the actions of the Bureau of Prisons in releasing Lopez-Sanchez to San Francisco authorities rather than to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

While some in Congress are working on legislation to increase penalties for certain immigration offenses or cut federal funding to sanctuary cities, the American Immigration Council (AIC) released a report on July 8 that found that immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than native-born U.S. residents and boast lower incarceration rates than native-born U.S. residents.

DHS Appropriations Bill Marked Up in Subcommittee

On July 9, the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee marked up and passed by voice vote the Fiscal Year 2016 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill. The bill maintains many of the current levels of enforcement including 34,000 detention beds and 21,370 Border Patrol Agents. The bill also includes a number of policy riders including attempts to defund the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Public Advocate Position and a provision that prevents the Obama Administration from implementing the president’s November 20, 2014 Executive Actions until a court decides they are constitutional.

A full committee markup is scheduled for July 14.

Advocates Remain Concerned about Long-Term Effects of Family Detention

On June 24, following family detention facility tours by eight House Democrats, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that the Department would make “substantial changes” to family detention practices. The announcement was met with cautious praise from advocates who hoped that these changes signified a substantial step towards an end to family detention.

In light of recent news, however, advocates remain concerned about the effects of long-term detention for immigrant families. In early June, a young mother was quickly deported to Honduras after she attempted suicide at a facility in Karnes, Texas. DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties has opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the young mother’s attempted suicide and subsequent deportation by ICE officials.

Additionally, on July 4, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and AIC reported that medical personnel at a family detention center in Dilley, Texas mistakenly gave adult-strength Hepatitis A vaccinations to 250 children. Although ICE officials released a statement saying that no adverse effects were reported, at least one mother at the facility has reported that her child was suffering from a high fever and other possible side effects.

Trump Surges as Fallout over Comments Continues

Citing the tragedy in San Francisco, real estate mogul and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump (R-New York) doubled-down on his controversial June comments that Mexican migrants are “rapists” who “bring[ ] drugs” and “crime” to the U.S., this time adding that “infectious disease is pouring across the border.” In response to the controversy, Trump’s business partners have continued to flee the reality TV star’s resorts, business ventures, and hotel projects, with NASCAR, the Professional Golfers Association, and celebrity chefs José Andrés and Geoffrey Zakarian all exiting Trump-backed projects this week.

On July 10, the president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition urged more businesses to break with Trump. In previous weeks, UnivisionNBCCarlos SlimMacy’s, New York City, and others cut ties with Trump. Trump has expressed surprise about the reaction to his comments, telling Fox News that he didn’t think the reaction from business partners would be “quite this severe.”

On July 6, the Washington Post reported on the reaction of construction workers building the Trump International Hotel, the mogul’s major Washington, D.C. hotel redevelopment project. The workers, some of whom were undocumented, voiced their concern with Trump’s comments, with one telling the paper, “It’s something ironic. . . . The majority of us are Hispanics, many who came illegally. . . . And we’re all here working very hard to build a better life for our families.”

Despite the controversy (or perhaps because of it), support for Trump among GOP primary voters has surged. On July 8, a poll in North Carolina showed that he leads the GOP field in the state, and on July 9, a national GOP primary poll showed Trump in the lead.

Republican party leaders have struggled to deal with the Trump polling surge, with Republican National Convention Chairman Reince Priebus reportedly telling Trump to dial down his rhetoric and many GOP candidates criticizing his comments. Even before Trump re-tweeted offensive comments about the wife of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Florida), Bush expressed personal offense to Trump’s comments.

On July 7, Liz Sullivan, the mother of San Francisco murder victim Kathryn Steinle, criticized Trump for using her daughter’s death “for his political platform.”

Fifth Circuit Hears Oral Arguments on Future of DACA/DAPA Programs

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in New Orleans on July 10 about the temporary injunction placed on the President’s executive actions to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the creation of the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs.

In February, Texas and 25 other states filed a lawsuit to stop the implementation of the DACA and DAPA policies. Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas granted a temporary injunction and refused the government’s request for an emergency stay of the injunction pending appeal.

On July 7, Judge Hanen issued an order setting an August 19 hearing date featuring testimony from key administration officials — including DHS Secretary Johnson — to determine whether the federal government should be held in contempt of court for issuing three-year work permits to DACA recipients: “This Court has expressed its willingness to believe that these actions were accidental and not done purposefully to violate this Court’s order. Nevertheless, it is shocked and surprised at the cavalier attitude the Government has taken with regard to its ‘efforts’ to rectify this situation.”

In April, after Hanen first threatened to issue sanctions, the AILA Ethics Committee released an article finding Hanen’s assertions of misconduct by federal government lawyers to be unmerited, stating that Hanen’s accusations were “troubling” and “problematic.”

Colorado Judge Allows Class-Action Labor Lawsuit Against Private Prison Contractor to Proceed

A federal judge in Colorado has decided not to dismiss a class-action lawsuit which alleges that GEO Group, the largest private prison contractor for immigration detention facilities in the United States, violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) by forcing immigrants to work while detained at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington. According to the complaint, GEO threatened detainees with solitary confinement if they refused to work for as little as $1 a day.

While the Judge threw out some provisions of the complaint, he allowed the lawsuit to proceed finding that the plaintiff’s allegations may be in violation of the TVPA which prohibits the use of labor or services by “means of force, threats of force, physical restraint, or threats of physical restraint.”

Government Reports

Congressional Research Service: Temporary Protected Status: Current Immigration Policy and Issues, July 1, 2015 (by Lisa Seghetti, Karma Ester and Ruth Ellen Wasem)

This CRS report examines Temporary Protected Status (TPS). When civil unrest, violence, or natural disasters affect the ability of foreign nationals present in the U.S. to safely return to their countries, the U.S. can extend TPS to those foreign nationals. TPS is authorized when extraordinary conditions make it temporarily too dangerous to return to the country or region affected.

Most recently, TPS was granted to nationals of Nepal present in the U.S. after the April 2015 earthquakes and aftershocks devastated the region. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson designated an estimated 10,000 to 25,000 nationals of Nepal for TPS for an 18-month period, ending December 24, 2016.

TPS is meant as a temporary safe haven for foreign nationals who cannot return to their home countries safely, therefore receiving TPS does not provide for a track to citizenship or legal permanent residence. However, TPS does provide work authorization and can be extended if conditions do not change in the affected country.

The U.S. currently provides TPS to over 300,000 foreign nationals from a total of 12 countries. The estimated number of foreign nationals receiving TPS ranges from 270 (Sudan) to 204,000 (El Salvador). Liberian nationals have received multiple grants of TPS going back to 1991 in response to years of civil war and the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak.

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*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Larry Benenson, National Immigration Forum Policy and Advocacy Associate, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Larry can be reached at lbenenson@immigrationforum.org.  Thank you.