Legislative Bulletin – Friday, July 14, 2017
Policy and Advocacy Associate
July 14, 2017
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
Integrity in Border and Immigration Enforcement Act
This bill seeks to ensure integrity of border and immigration enforcement efforts by requiring U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to administer law enforcement polygraph examinations to all applicants for law enforcement positions and to require post-hire polygraph examinations for law enforcement personnel as part of periodic reinvestigations.
Sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) (1 cosponsor)
07/13/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Durbin
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018
This bill authorizes FY2018 appropriations and sets forth policies for Department of Defense (DOD) programs and activities, including military personnel strengths. It does not provide budget authority, which is provided in subsequent appropriations legislation.
Sponsored by Representative Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) (1 cosponsor)
06/07/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Thornberry
07/06/2017 Reported (Amended) by the Committee on Armed Services. H. Rept. 115-200
07/11/2017 Supplemental report filed by the Committee on Armed Services, H. Rept. 115-200, Part II.
Fiscal Year 2018 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Act
This appropriations bill targets critical programs such as aviation security, border and immigration enforcement, customs activities, protection against cyberterrorism, natural disaster response, and efforts to stop the smuggling of drugs and people into the U.S.
Sponsored by Representative TBD
07/11/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative TBD
07/11/2017 Referred to House Appropriations Committee
07/12/2017 Marked up by House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security in a voice vote
Fiscal Year 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill
The bill targets funding increases for national security – including cybercrime, counter-terrorism and espionage. The bill also provides increases for federal law enforcement to crack down on illegal immigration, and combat violent crime, gangs and opioid trafficking.
Sponsored by Representative TBD
07/13/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative TBD
07/13/2017 Referred to the House Appropriations Committee
07/13/2017 Marked up by the House Appropriations Committee in a 31-21 vote
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, July 17, 2017 through Thursday, July 20, 2017.
The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, July 17, 2017.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
Full Committee Markup: FY2018 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, and FY2018 Interior Appropriations Bill
Date: Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at 10:30 am (House Appropriations)
Location: 2359 Rayburn House Office Building
Date: Wednesday, July 19, 2017 at 2 pm (House Judiciary)
Location: 2141 Rayburn House Office Building
Date: Thursday, July 20, 2017 at 10 am (House Judiciary)
Location: 2141 Rayburn House Office Building
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
President Trump Contemplates Plan to Limit Legal Immigration
The Trump administration is working with two Republican senators to introduce legislation that would cut the numbers of legal immigrants to the U.S. in half by 2027. Stephen Miller, a senior administration official, and Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and David Perdue (R-Georgia) are revising legislation known as the RAISE Act, which the senators introduced in February. President Trump expressed support for that legislation at the time as part of a broader goal of overhauling the U.S. immigration system. Currently, about 1 million people enter the United States legally each year, but this legislation would reduce that number to 500,000 over the next decade. The proposed legislation would also shift the American immigration system from its current family-based to a merit-based focus.
Proponents of the legislation argue that this reform is necessary to protect American workers. Critics from across the political spectrum have expressed concerns about limiting legal immigration, noting its effects on families and American competitiveness.
ICE Officers Directed to Take Action Against “All Removable Aliens Encountered”
In a February Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) memorandum, the agency directed officers to target “all removable aliens encountered in the course of their duties,” regardless of whether those individuals had criminal records or otherwise pose a security threat. Such guidance appears to go even further than what the Trump administration had previously publicly promised. Although the administration has been clear about its goal of increasing immigration enforcement, it has also claimed that its priority was deporting immigrants posing a public safety threat.
In recent months, there has been a clear increase in ICE arrests of undocumented immigrants without criminal records. Between February and May 2017, ICE agents arrested an average of 108 non-criminal undocumented immigrants per day, representing an increase of more than 50 percent from the same time period a year ago. Included among those arrested, detained or ordered deported were a New York high school student who was preparing for his senior prom, a respected Hawaii coffee farmer and father, and a Florida pizza restaurant manager.
Secretary Kelly Says DACA Is in Jeopardy; Trump to Make Final Decision
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in a July 12 meeting that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which protects almost 800,000 young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, is in legal jeopardy. The meeting came two weeks after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R – Texas) and ten other states warned Attorney General Sessions that they would sue the federal government to challenge DACA if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not rescind the program by September 5. Kelly questioned whether DACA would survive a court challenge. Members of the Hispanic caucus pushed Kelly during the meeting to support bipartisan legislation that would protect Dreamers, such as the Bridge Act or the Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act, but Kelly reportedly was not familiar with that legislation.
On July 13, President Trump said that he will make the final decision about whether to defend DACA. Trump also said he would like Congress to pass “a comprehensive immigration plan,” but argued that the country is not yet ready for such a plan. Trump previously pledged to “deal with DACA with heart” on February 16.
DHS Appropriations Bill Moves Forward; Funds White House Priorities
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security marked up and passed by voice vote the fiscal year (FY) 2018 DHS Appropriations bill on July 12. The spending bill contains $44.3 billion in discretionary funding for the DHS, an increase of $1.9 billion above FY 2017 levels. The bill directs approximately $13.8 billion for CBP, an increase of $1.6 billion, including the White House’s full request for $1.6 billion to build 74 miles of physical barriers along the Southwest border. The bill also provides $100 million to hire 500 new Border Patrol agents and $130 million for new border technology. On July 13, President Trump said that a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border may not need to cover the entire border because of existing natural barriers, such as mountains and rivers. Trump suggested that the U.S. needs “anywhere from 700 to 900 miles.” The U.S. already has almost 700 miles of fencing along the Southwest border.
The spending bill also provides $7 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, about $620 million above FY 2017 levels. This includes $185 million to hire 1,000 additional law ICE officers and 606 support staff. The bill also directs $4.4 billion for detention and removal programs, which would fund an average daily population of 44,000 detention beds, an increase of 4,676 beds above FY 2017 levels.
The full House Appropriations Committee will mark up the bill on July 18.
Trump Administration Delays a Foreign Entrepreneur Rule
The Department of Homeland Security delayed the effective date of the International Entrepreneur Rule, which would have allowed international entrepreneurs and investors to receive parole to enter the U.S. on a case-by-case basis and to make qualifying investments. The rule had been proposed by the Obama administration and was supposed to take effect on July 17, 2017. DHS rescheduled the effective date to March 14, 2018, in order to provide the department with more the time for gathering public comments regarding a proposal to rescind the rule.
U.S. Ranks Seventh Best Country to Be an Immigrant
A recent U.S. News and World Report study ranked the United States as the seventh best country to live as an immigrant. Although the U.S. houses more immigrants than any other country, survey respondents ranked the U.S. lower than several other countries – Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, Germany, and Norway. In conducting the study, U.S. News asked more than 21,000 people from around the world about four factors – economic stability, job market, income equality, livability. U.S. News cited the election of President Trump and controversy over his immigration policies as contributing to the U.S. trailing the other six countries.
Hawaii Judge Halts Trump’s Travel Ban Guidance on Grandparents, Others
In an order issued late on July 13, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson issued new injunctions related to the Trump administration’s recent travel and refugee ban guidance. Watson ruled that the guidance was inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s June 26 decision that permitted only those with “a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” to avoid the ban. The ruling comes one week after Watson declined to issue a decision an interpretation of what constituted a “bona fide relationship.”
On June 29, the DHS issued guidelines implementing the travel and refugee bans following with the Supreme Court’s decision, stating that a “close familial relationship” does not include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law and any other “extended” family members. Additionally, preexisting relationships between refugees and resettlement agencies were also not supposed to be considered as satisfying the Court’s guidance on the refugee ban. Watson’s order struck down this limited reading of “bona fide relationship” as applied both to family relationships and resettlement agencies.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions harshly criticized the decision and made clear that the Trump administration would appeal: “By this decision, the district court has improperly substituted its policy preferences for the national security judgments of the Executive branch in a time of grave threats, defying both the lawful prerogatives of the Executive Branch and the directive of the Supreme Court.”
There were no immigration or workforce related government reports published during the week of Monday, July 10, 2017.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.