Legislative Bulletin – Friday, July 17, 2015

Assistant Director for Immigration Policy and Advocacy

July 17, 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

7/14/2015 Marked up by House Appropriations Committee

7/14/2015 Consideration of amendments, including sanctuary amendment

7/14/2015 Approved by House Appropriations Committee, by a vote of 32-17

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. 3002

Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act

This bill would prohibit the receipt of Federal financial assistance by sanctuary cities.

Sponsored by Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pennsylvania) (2 cosponsors)

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

7/9/2015 Referred to House Judiciary and House Oversight and Government Reform

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. This is the companion bill to S. 1752.

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. 1764

Protecting American Citizens Together Act (PACT Act)

This bill would prohibit certain federal funds from being made available to sanctuary cities and would make detainers mandatory.

Sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky)

7/14/2015 Introduced in Senate by Sen. Paul

7/14/2015 Referred to Senate Judiciary

S. 1752

Criminal Alien Deportation Act

This bill would require Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials to detain undocumented immigrants arrested or convicted of serious crimes and deport them within 90 days. It also aims to enhance communication between federal, State, tribal, and local jurisdictions. This is the companion bill to H.R. 2942.

Sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) (1 cosponsor)

7/13/2015 Introduced in Senate by Sen. McCain

7/13/2015 Referred to Senate Judiciary

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 Tuesday, July 21 to Friday, July 24, 2015.

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, July 20, 2015.

Upcoming Hearings and Markups

Oversight of the Administration’s Misdirected Immigration Enforcement Policies: Examining the Impact on Public Safety and Honoring the Victims

Date: Tuesday, July 21, 2015, 10:00 a.m. (Senate Judiciary Committee)

Location: Dirksen 106 [NEW LOCATION]

Witnesses: TBA

Sanctuary Cities: A Threat to Public Safety

Date: Thursday, July 23, 2015, 10:00 a.m. (House Judiciary Committee – Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security)

Location: 2141 Rayburn [UPDATED LOCATION]


Jim Steinle, Father of Kathryn Steinle – Pleasanton, California

Scott Jones, Sheriff – Sacramento County, California

Jessica Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies, Center for Immigration Studies

Richard Biehl, Chief of Police, Dayton Police Department – Dayton, Ohio

Themes in Washington This Week

Congressional Republicans Turn Attention to Immigration Enforcement

So-called sanctuary cities have been the focus of Congress’s attention after the tragic murder of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco on July 1. Congressional Republicans have offered a series of bills and amendments aimed at requiring states and localities to honor immigration detainers and otherwise participate in federal immigration enforcement initiatives, cutting off specified federal funding to non-compliant jurisdictions. Additional Republican proposals would expand mandatory detention to cover additional categories of immigrants with criminal records, would impose a five-year mandatory sentence and would provide for expedited removal in some situations. On the Democratic side, California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer are also said to be working on legislation to require jurisdictions to cooperate with federal officials to deport immigrant felons.

Republican leaders have also scheduled a series of hearings on immigration enforcement policies and sanctuary cities. On July 14, in a sometimes contentious House Judiciary Committee hearing, Republican lawmakers slammed Obama Administration enforcement policies and decried “sanctuary cities.” U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, testifying before the committee, expressed a desire to improve federal-local law enforcement cooperation, but was opposed to legislation mandating cooperation: “I do not believe that we should mandate the conduct of state and local law enforcement through federal legislation . . . I believe that the most effective way to work with jurisdictions . . .  is through a cooperative effort.”

Similarly, notable law enforcement voices have expressed concerns about congressional attempts to “punish” so-called sanctuary cities.

DHS Implements Family Detention Reforms for Families Seeking Asylum

On July 13, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that it will generally refrain from detaining mothers with children: “Going forward, ICE will generally not detain mothers with children, absent a threat to public safety or national security, if they have received a positive finding for credible or reasonable fear and the individual has a verifiable residential address.” The announcement follows the June 24 statement from U.S. Department of Homeland of Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson, which promised “substantial changes” to family detention practices.

Already, the policy shift appears to be taking effect with recent news of more than 200 women and children being released from family detention centers in both Texas and Pennsylvania. Most women have been released without being issued high bond amounts and are now being placed on electronic ankle monitoring devices.

Immigration advocates praised ICE for its policy to begin releasing immigrant families, stating that this was a significant step forward in ending family detention practices. However, advocates are quick to note that these policy shifts have not ended family detention in its entirety and that new families are continuing to be sent to detention centers.

Fifth Circuit Hears Oral Arguments in Challenge to DAPA and Expanded DACA

On July 10, oral arguments on the challenge to key components of President Obama’s November 2014 immigration initiatives were heard by a panel of three judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans. Two of the three judges on the panel, those who ruled against the administration’s emergency request to stay the injunction blocking the executive actions, appeared inclined to rule against the federal government once again. The judges appeared skeptical of the administration’s arguments, directing pointed questions at the attorney representing the U.S. Department of Justice.

2016 Campaign Update

Trump Joins Arpaio in Arizona Rally

On July 11, real estate developer and reality television star Donald Trump (R-New York) held a campaign rally in Phoenix with controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The rally, which came days before Maricopa County agreed to settle a federal lawsuit concerning Arpaio’s immigration enforcement policies, carried a strong anti-immigration message, with Trump pronouncing: “We have to stop illegal immigration. We have to. We have to.”

Trump, who has become a lightning rod for controversy after referring to Mexican immigrants as rapists and killers in his presidential announcement speech, continued his hard line on Mexican immigration. Trump asserted that while he “loves the Mexicans” and “respects Mexico,” Mexican immigrants are “taking our jobs. They’re taking our manufacturing jobs. They’re taking our money. They’re killing us.” While condemning Mexican immigration in stark terms, Trump asserted that he supported for legal immigration saying, “They flow in like water, and I love legal immigration. I love it,” he said. “We should make it easier, and faster.”

Prior to the event, both of Arizona’s Senators slammed Trump with Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) calling Trump’s views on immigration “coarse, ill-informed and inaccurate,” and “not representative of the Republican Party.” Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) echoed Flake, stating “I guarantee you the overwhelming majority (in Arizona) … do not agree with [Trump’s] attitude, that he has displayed, toward our Hispanic citizens. We love them.” McCain further criticized the mogul in a July 16 New Yorker article, noting that the Arpaio rally “fired up the crazies.” Trump responded via Twitter, calling McCain a “dummy” and urging McCain’s defeat in the 2016 Arizona GOP Senate primary.

Trump Facing Criticism from GOP, Democratic Opponents, Others

Presidential candidates from both parties criticized Trump this week, with former Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) dismissing “Trump-ism” as “a toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense.” Perry also criticized Trump’s border security positions, asserting that Trump has “made clear that he believes the states should fend for themselves on border security.” Previously, former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Florida) and others have criticized or condemned Trump. Trump was also slammed by Democrats Hillary Clinton (D-New York), Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont, who is running for president as a Democrat) and Martin O’Malley (D-Maryland).

Trump also faced criticism from prominent evangelical leaders, who opposed his “immigrant bash[ing]” message, and border experts, who disparaged his plan to build a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Walker Announces Presidential Campaign, Faces Immigration-Related Controversies

On July 13, Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) formally announced his presidential campaign after months on the campaign trail.

Walker entered the race facing multiple immigration-related controversies. For months, Walker has faced accusations of “flip flopping” on the issue after backtracking from his previous support for immigration reform including a “path to citizenship” for the undocumented. In April, Walker came out in favor of limiting legal immigration, a position he has reportedly softened in private.

The flip-flop charge flared up again earlier this month as Stephen Moore, a scholar at the Heritage Foundation who supports immigration reform, relayed a phone conversation with Walker to the New York Times. The Wisconsin governor reportedly told Moore, “I’m not going nativist, I’m pro-immigration.” Following pushback from the Walker campaign, Moore stated he had “misspoken” and that call had never actually happened.

O’Malley Lays Out Immigration Agenda

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Maryland), who is running for the Democratic nomination, laid out his immigration plan on July 14. O’Malley’s plan calls for dramatically scaling down immigration detention and expanding the President Obama’s executive action from November 2014 to shield the parents of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients from deportation. At the announcement of this policy O’Malley was flanked by undocumented immigrants and groups who emphasized the need for immigration reform now. Touting the plan in New York City, O’Malley noted that “The enduring symbol of our liberty is not a barbed wire fence. It’s the Statue of Liberty.”

Texas Stops Issuing Birth Certificates to U.S. Citizen Children with Undocumented Parents

A lawsuit filed in the District Court of Austin alleges that Texas Department of State Health Services has been refusing to administer birth certificates to U.S.-born children of undocumented parents. According to the lawsuit, Texas officials are rejecting identification cards issued by the Mexican consulate as well as Mexican passports without a valid U.S. visa, as sufficient proof of identity for undocumented parents seeking to obtain birth certificates for their U.S.-born children. The complaint alleges Texas’ actions violate the 14th Amendment’s birthright citizenship and equal protection clauses, as well as the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, which filed the initial lawsuit on behalf of four undocumented parents in May, recently amended the suit to include more undocumented parents who have come forward claiming that they too have been denied birth certificates for their children on the basis that they lacked sufficient proof of identification.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights sent letters of concern to the Department of Justice and to Texas officials, stating that a formal investigation may be necessary if the practice of denying birth certificates to U.S.-born children persists.

Government Reports

U.S. Government Accountability Office: Unaccompanied Alien Children: Actions Needed to Ensure Children Receive Required Care in DHS Custody, July 14, 2015

This report issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) examines the apprehension, processing, and treatment of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  Generally, the report finds that CBP is not sufficiently following all of the requirements set forth by the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection ReAuthorization Act (TVPRA), which mandates special procedures for the treatment and care of unaccompanied alien children.

The report provides some alarming data regarding inconsistencies of screening processes by CBP agents, highlighting the general lack of training which CBP agents receive on TVPRA requirements. For example, the report found that CBP agents have, in a large number of cases, failed to transfer unaccompanied children from Mexico who passed credible fear interviews over to Health and Human Services (HHS). The report also found that data collection and interagency collaboration by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), CBP, and HHS could be significantly improved to ensure efficiency and full compliance with TVPRA requirements.

Congressional Research Service: State and Local “Sanctuary” Policies Limiting Participation in Immigration Enforcement, July 10, 2015, (Michael John Garcia and Kate M. Manuel)

This report provides a summary on the legal and statutory requirements that guide the relationship between federal immigration laws and state and local law enforcement efforts. The report first provides the legal background on the constitutionality of the federal government to enforce immigration laws and the limitations placed on Congress by the Tenth Amendment in “commandeering” states to administer federal laws.

The discussion then shifts to the complexities that arise when federal immigration authorities work closely with state and local law enforcement. The report provides general insight on the different measures that states and localities have taken to limit or expand its relationship with federal immigration authorities.

Congressional Research Service: Legal Sidebar, Recent Shooting in San Francisco Raises Questions about “Sanctuary Cities” and Compliance with Immigration Detainers, July 9, 2015

In light of recent widespread media coverage on the killing of a young woman by an undocumented immigrant in San Francisco, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) has released a short primer on California and San Francisco policies as it relates to immigration detainers. The fact sheet provides a concise overview on the relationship between federal immigration laws and state and local policies, while also raising legal concerns from requiring state and local law enforcement to honor detainers.

* * *

*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.