Legislative Bulletin – Friday, July 28, 2017

Policy and Advocacy Associate

July 28, 2017

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

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

S. 1615

Dream Act of 2017

This bill would provide Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and have lived in the U.S. at least four years, protection from deportation and an opportunity to obtain legal status if they meet certain requirements. This is the companion bill to H.R. 3440.

Sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham (R – South Carolina) (5 cosponsors)

07/26/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Graham

07/26/2017 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 3219

Make America Secure Appropriations Act of 2018

This bill provides appropriations for defense, military construction, veteran affairs and other purposes for fiscal year (FY) 2018. The bill includes $1.6 billion to build 32 new miles of border fencing in the Rio Grande Valley, 28 miles of new levee wall and 14 miles of secondary fencing in San Diego, California.

Sponsored by Representative Kay Granger (R – Texas) (0 cosponsors)

07/13/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Granger

07/13/2017 Passed the House Appropriations Committee by a voice vote

07/27/2017 Passed the House by a 235 to 192 vote

H.R. 3358

Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2018

This bill includes appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2018 for skills and workforce development programs that assist many individuals in the U.S. to reach their full potential, including immigrants and new Americans. The bill also provides appropriations for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

Sponsored by Representative Tom Cole (R – Oklahoma) (0 cosponsors)

07/13/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Cole

07/24/2017 Passed by House Appropriations Committee by a party-line 28 to 22 vote

H.R. 3436

A Bill to Require the Secretary of Homeland Security to Prepare a Southwest Border Threat Analysis, and for Other Purposes

Sponsored by Representative Martha McSally (R – Arizona) (4 cosponsors)

07/26/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative McSally

07/26/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security

H.R. 3440

Dream Act of 2017

This bill would provide Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and have lived in the U.S. at least four years, protection from deportation and an opportunity to obtain legal status if they meet certain requirements. This is the companion bill to S. 1615.

Sponsored by Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D -California) (1 cosponsor)

07/26/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Roybal-Allard

07/26/2017 Referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary and on Education and the Workforce

H.R. 3471

A Bill to Amend Section 203(b)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to Implement New Reforms, and to Reauthorize the EB-5 Regional Center Program, in Order to Promote and Reform Foreign Capital Investment and Job Creation in Communities in the United States, and for Other Purposes.

Sponsored by Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R – Pennsylvania) (1 cosponsor)

07/27/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Fitzpatrick

07/27/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 3474

Border Security and Accountability Act of 2017

This bill would establish a new border security strategy, increase personnel at Ports of Entry, modernize border infrastructure, and protect natural ecosystems near the border.

Sponsored by Representative Raul Grijalva (D – Arizona) (0 cosponsors)

07/27/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Grijalva

07/27/2017 Referred to the House Committees on Homeland Security, on the Judiciary, on Armed Services, and others.

H.R. 3479

Secure Miles with All Resources and Technology (SMART) Act

This bill would direct the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deploy “the most practical and effective” border security technologies available to achieve situational awareness and operation control of the U.S.-Mexico border and require that the Secretary submit a comprehensive border security strategy to Congress that lists all known physical barriers, technologies, tools and other devices that can be utilized along the border.

Sponsored by Representative Will Hurd (R – Texas) (8 cosponsors)

07/27/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Hurd

07/27/2017 Referred to House Committees on Homeland Security and on Energy and Commerce

H.R. 3486

Ending the Sanctuary Capitol Policy Act

The bill would allow the U.S. Capitol Police to enforce immigration laws.

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

07/27/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative King

07/27/2017 Referred to the House Committee on House Administration

H.R. 3487

Census Accuracy Act of 2017

This bill would amend the census questionnaire to include questions regarding whether respondents are citizens, immigrants in the country with lawful status or immigrants in the country without authorization. In addition, the bill would require that those who answer that they are immigrants in the country lawfully identify which federal program or law granted them the status they are claiming.

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

07/27/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative King

07/27/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R.___

This bill would reauthorize and modernize the Global Supply Chain Security program, which in part allows companies to partner with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to enhance security throughout their supply chain and expedite their cross-border commerce, reducing wait times at ports of entry.

Sponsored by Representative Martha McSally (R – Arizona) (0 cosponsors)

07/28/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative McSally

H.R.___

American Hope Act of 2017

This bill would provide a permanent legislative solution to young undocumented immigrants enrolled in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and other young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and have lived here most of their lives, allowing them to obtain legal status and eventual citizenship if they meet certain requirements.

Sponsored by Representative Luis Gutierrez (D –Illinois) (117 cosponsors)

07/28/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Gutierrez

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

 The U.S. House of Representatives will be in recess until Tuesday, September 5, 2017.

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, July 31, 2017.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

There are no immigration-related hearings or markups currently scheduled for the week that ends on Friday, August 6, 2017.

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Trump Names Kelly White House Chief of Staff

Late on July 28, President Trump announced via twitter that he would be naming Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly his new White House Chief of Staff. Kelly a former four-star Marine general, has played a key role in implementing the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement policies since being confirmed as DHS Secretary in January.

House Members Introduce Bills to Protect Dreamers

Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R – Florida) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D – California) introduced the House version of the Dream Act of 2017 on July 26. The bill, which is a companion bill to the Senate’s Dream Act introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R – South Carolina) and Richard Durbin (D – Illinois), would protect young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and have lived in the U.S. for at least four years, known as Dreamers, from deportation. The bill would grant Dreamers conditional permanent resident status that would permit them to work legally in the U.S., travel outside the country and adjust to full lawful permanent resident status if they meet certain requirements, such as enlisting in the military for two years, working for three years, graduating from an institution of higher education, or completing two years in an institution of higher education. Approximately 1.8 million Dreamers, including almost 800,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, would benefit from the Dream Act.

In addition, Representative Luis Gutierrez (D – Illinois) introduced the American Hope Act of 2017 with 112 co-sponsors at the time of introduction on July 28. The bill would protect Dreamers who were brought to the U.S. as children and have lived in the U.S. since December 31, 2016 from deportation. The bill would provide conditional permanent resident status to Dreamers and allow them to obtain full lawful permanent resident status after three years if they do not commit crimes. DACA recipients would be able to count their time spent with DACA toward the required three years with conditional permanent resident status. In addition, time spent with conditional permanent resident status would count toward the general five-year period needed for permanent residents to become eligible for U.S. citizenship.

A third bill to protect certain Dreamers, the Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act introduced by Representative Carlos Curbelo (R – Florida), was introduced on March 9.

House Approves $1.6 Billion to Build Fencing, Levee Walls in the Southwest Border

The House voted on July 27 to approve a defense spending bill that includes $1.6 billion to build 74 miles of fencing and levee walls along the southwest border. The bill, which passed by a 235 to 192 vote, provides funding for 32 miles of new fencing and 28 miles of new levee wall in the Rio Grande Valley, and 14 miles of secondary fencing in San Diego. The funding item was originally part of the Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2018, which was approved by the Appropriations Committee on July 18. However, Republican leadership in the House used a procedural tool, known as a “self-executing rule,” to add the funding into the defense spending package.

Republican and Democratic representatives from the border region expressed opposition to the funding, arguing that building a border wall is not the most effective way to secure the border and is too costly. Representative Will Hurd (R – Texas) introduced an amendment that would have prevented the use of funds to build any physical barriers along the border until the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) submits a comprehensive border security strategy justifying the costs. The amendment was not considered.

The bill was approved on a largely party-line vote with five Republicans voting against the bill, and five Democrats voting in favor.

DOJ Sets New Guidelines for Byrne JAG Grants

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released new guidelines on July 25 to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities, announcing that it would award grant money only to jurisdictions that allow federal immigration authorities access to jails and notify them when someone in the country without proper authorization is about to be released. Starting in September, jurisdictions applying for Byrne Justice Assistance Program (“Byrne JAG”) grants, which provide federal funding to state and local jurisdictions for law enforcement supplies and programs, will have to abide by three new conditions. Going forward, these jurisdictions will have to certify compliance with the information-sharing provisions  of 8 U.S.C. 1373, provide federal immigration authorities access to detention facilities and notify them when someone in the country without proper authorization is about to be released.

While most localities generally cooperate with federal authorities, some of the specifics of the DOJ guidance could pose legal and logistical problems for many jurisdictions. The 48-hour notice requirement may be impossible to meet in some circumstances, particularly when those detained post bond or have their criminal cases dismissed. And in general, policies that threaten to take away grant funding could interfere with jurisdictions’ abilities to craft their own community trust policies.

Some legal experts have questioned whether the new proposals, adopted without the input of Congress, are even legal, questioning whether they violate notions of federalism and executive power. The new requirements also potentially are in conflict with a recent decision from a California federal court that limited the actions the administration could take to implement portions of its January 2017 executive order that sought to strip federal funding from so-called sanctuary jurisdictions.

USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for Certain H-1B Applications

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on July 24 that it will resume premium processing for certain H-1B visa applications effective immediately. USCIS temporarily suspended premium processing for H-1B visas in April after President Trump signed an executive order to deter and detect visa fraud. The H-1B visa, which allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations such as the tech industry or health care, has an annual cap of 65,000 visas each fiscal year, and an annual “master’s cap” of 20,000 for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher. Employers traditionally rely on premium processing for H-1B visas to expedite the application process, which can normally last several months, to 15 days. USCIS resumed premium processing for H-1B visas for institutions of higher education, nonprofits related to higher education and nonprofit research or governmental research organizations.  USCIS said it plans to resume premium processing of other H-1B petitions in the future as workload permits.

Ten Immigrants Die After Being Smuggled in Stifling Conditions

At least ten immigrants died and 20 were hospitalized from severe dehydration and heatstroke on July 23 after being crammed in an 18-wheeler trailer parked behind a Walmart store in San Antonio, Texas. The immigrants, predominantly from Mexico and Guatemala, are believed to have been smuggled into the United States and were making their way into the interior of the country in the trailer. The ten immigrants died as a result of rising temperatures in the trailer, which led to heat exposure and asphyxiation. Most of the immigrants taken to the hospital were taken in “extremely severe” or critical condition. Federal authorities said that the deaths and injuries are a human trafficking crime and later charged the driver of the trailer, James M. Bradley Jr., with “unlawfully transport[ing] aliens in violation of law,” resulting in death. Local authorities noted that the deaths underscore the perils facing immigrants trying to enter the U.S. by any means available. On July 26, Representative Henry Cuellar (D – Texas) stated that the trailer had passed through a Border Patrol checkpoint unnoticed two hours before it was discovered outside the San Antonio Walmart store.

One of the immigrants who died in the trailer, Frank Giusseppe Fuentes, was a 19-year-old Dreamer and former recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  Fuentes was brought to the U.S. when he was 2 years old and lived for most of his life in Falls Church, Virginia. He was deported in March after receiving a criminal conviction and was attempting to re-enter the U.S. to be reunited with his parents.

Legal

Federal Judge Stops Deportations of 1,400 Iraqis

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith in Detroit stopped the deportation of more than 1,400 Iraqis, most of them Chaldean Christians, who fear persecution or physical harm if deported from the United States. Goldsmith granted the Iraqis a preliminary injunction to prevent their removal because of the severity of the persecution that they could face if returned to Iraq as ethnic and religious minorities. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) criticized the ruling on July 24, claiming that the Iraqis pose a safety threat and had already benefit from deportation safeguards and review processes. However, Goldsmith said the decision will allow the more than 1,400 Iraqis to remain in the country and challenge their removal in federal courts, assuring that those who might be subjected to grave harm are not deported before having their day in court.

Massachusetts Rules Against Immigration Detainers

In a ruling on July 26, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that Massachusetts law does not allow court and law enforcement officers to arrest and hold individuals solely on the basis of a federal civil immigration detainer. The court’s decision was premised on the notion that the immigration removal process is a civil matter, not a criminal matter, and that state law does not permit arrests or detention for civil matters.

Following the decision, Gov. Charlie Baker (R – Massachusetts) is exploring legislation to permit local police to honor detainers in certain circumstances. In contrast, Attorney General Maura Healey (D – Massachusetts) spoke favorably of the decision and noted that other states may follow Massachusetts’ lead.

The decision of the state’s highest court is the first to proclaim that honoring warrantless detainers is unlawful at the state level and one of many recent court decisions, including a federal court in Washington State on July 25, to raise questions surrounding the legality of detainers.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

U.S. Government Accountability Office, Southwest Border: Additional Actions Needed to Strengthen Management and Assess Effectiveness of Land-based Surveillance Technology, July 25, 2017 (Statement by Rebecca Gambler)

This statement of testimony by Rebecca Gambler, Director of Homeland Security and Justice at the GAO, before the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security in the House Committee on Homeland Security examines U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) progress in deploying surveillance technology along the southwest border and recommends to CBP to improve its management of plans and programs for surveillance technologies.

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