Legislative Bulletin – Friday, July 31, 2015

Assistant Director for Immigration Policy and Advocacy

July 31, 2015

Bills Introduced and Considered

H.R. 3011

Kate’s Law

This bill amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to increase penalties applicable to aliens who unlawfully reenter after being removed.

Sponsored by Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Arizona) (33 cosponsors)

7/9/2015 Introduced in House

7/9/2015 Referred to House Judiciary

H.R. 3009

Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act

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

Sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California) (36 cosponsors)

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

7/9/2015 Referred to House Judiciary

7/22/2015 Rules Committee Meeting on H.R. 3009, including submission of amendments

7/23/2015 Passed House (Roll Call Vote No. 466: 241-179).

S. 1864

Department of Homeland Security Border Metrics Act of 2015

A bill to improve national security by developing metrics to measure the effectiveness of security between ports of entry, at points of entry, and along the maritime border.

Sponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) (2 cosponsors)

7/27/2015 Introduced in Senate by Sen. Johnson

7/29/2015 Marked up in the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. Ordered reported favorably en bloc by voice vote (Senator Sasse recorded “No”).

S. 1843

Criminal Alien Notification Act

This bill would establish a nationwide, two-way notification system between federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement that is intended to improve communication between federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement, facilitating the rapid deportation of criminal aliens arrested for serious crimes

Sponsored by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) (1 cosponsor)

7/22/2015 Introduced in Senate by Sen. Flake

7/22/2015 Referred to Senate Judiciary

S. 1814

Stop Sanctuary Cities Act

This bill would withhold certain federal funding from sanctuary cities.

Sponsored by Sen. David Vitter (R-Louisiana) (3 cosponsors)

7/21/2015 Introduced in Senate by Sen. Vitter

S. 1812

Improving Cooperation with States and Local Governments and Preventing the Catch and Release of Criminal Aliens Act of 2015

This bill would withhold federal funding from sanctuary jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate on criminal aliens and other high priority individuals. It would also increase the amount of time an undocumented immigrant must spend in jail for re-entry after deportation from 2 years to 5 years.

Sponsored by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) (2 cosponsors)

7/21/2015 Introduced in Senate by Sen. Grassley

7/21/2015 Referred to Senate Judiciary

S. 1808

Northern Border Security Review Act

To require the Secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a Northern Border threat analysis, and for other purposes.

Sponsored by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) (3 cosponsors)

7/21/2015 Introduced by Sen. Heitkamp

7/29/2015 Marked up in the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. Ordered to be reported with an amendment in the nature of a substitute favorably.

S. 1640

The Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act (There is also a companion bill in the House)

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) (6 cosponsors)

6/22/2015 Introduced 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 recess the entire month of August.

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, August 3, 2015, before recessing for the remainder of August.

Upcoming Hearings and Markups

S. 1814, Stop Sanctuary Cities Act [POSTPONED TO NEW DATE]

Date: Thursday, September 10, 2015, 10:00 a.m. (Senate Judiciary Committee)

Location: TBD

Themes in Washington This Week

Ohio Crime Spree Re-Ignites Immigration Debate

A crime spree in Plainsville, Ohio by an undocumented Mexican immigrant has re-ignited the national debate on sanctuary city policies and immigration enforcement. The undocumented immigrant, Juan Emmanuel Razo-Ramirez, is accused of killing a woman in her home, attempting to rape a 14-year-old girl, and shooting another woman in a park on July 27.

Two weeks prior, Razo-Ramirez was stopped by local law enforcement for a minor infraction and admitted to officials that he was undocumented. When the local sheriff’s office consulted Border Patrol agents regarding his immigration status, they were told that Border Patrol had “no legal basis to file a detainer to hold the subject.” Razo-Ramirez had no prior criminal record and reportedly suffered from a history of mental illness. City officials have been quick to note that Plainsville, Ohio is not a sanctuary city and that local law enforcement cooperates fully with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Judge Gee Rules Against Family Detention in Flores Settlement Case

On July 24, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ruled that the federal government’s policy of detaining immigrant families was in direct violation of the standards set forth in a 1997 settlement agreement on the treatment and care of immigrant children. The settlement requires that immigrant children be placed in “the least restrictive setting appropriate” and promotes a presumption of release. While the federal government has until August 3 to respond to the order and may seek an appeal, attorneys representing immigrant families report that large numbers of women and children are being released on bond or are placed on electronic monitoring devices at detention facilities in both Texas and Pennsylvania.

The ruling was met with praise from immigration advocates and House Democrats who have been pushing to end family detention practices. On July 28, the Congressional Progressive Caucus and House Democrats held a forum on family detention, where recently released immigrant mothers gave emotional testimony about their experiences in detention. At the forum, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) stated that House Democrats have drafted a letter addressed to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, calling for an official end to family detention. The letter was signed by 178 of 188 House Democrats.

On July 30, ten mothers held in family detention filed formal complaints with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), asserting that they and their children received substandard medical care while in DHS detention.

Federal Court Orders Seizure of Arpaio Files

U.S. Marshals were given the order to enter Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office in Phoenix on July 24. Marshals seized documents, hard drives, and other evidence that Arpaio had failed to turn over to the court in connection to a racial profiling case. U.S. District Judge Murray Snow gave the order during an emergency hearing he called on July 24 and also criticized Arpaio and his lawyers for failing to turn over evidence related to the allegations that Arpaio’s deputies regularly kept items seized  during arrests. Reportedly, the evidence collected included hard drives related to Arpaio’s hiring of a private investigator to investigate Judge Snow’s wife.

2016 Campaign Update

Immigration reform remains at the forefront of GOP presidential campaigns, with former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Florida) remarking that he was “hurt” by Donald Trump’s “vulgar” comments about Mexican immigrants in the United States. In a Spanish-language interview with Telemundo, Bush emphasized that if elected, immigration reform would be one of his top priorities: “For the 11 million people undocumented immigrants in America, they must come of the shadows, receive a work visa, start paying taxes and also pay a small fine, learn English, don’t receive government benefits, but they come of the shadows and they receive legal status after some time.”

In response to Bush’s interview, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana) sent an email to his supporters criticizing Bush for backing “amnesty” of undocumented immigrants. “Jeb Bush called for amnesty for those who are in our country illegally,” he wrote. “I wish I could say I’m surprised. But Jeb Bush has been clear and consistent about his belief that Republicans have to be willing to ‘lose the primary to win the general.’ We just disagree about that.” In a July 30 interview with CNN, Jindal declined to specify how he would handle the eleven million undocumented residents of the U.S., but called for a “higher wall” at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a CNN interview, Donald Trump (R-New York) further expanded his views on immigration by stating that as president, he would deport all undocumented immigrants and allow “the good ones” to expeditiously return to the United States: “We got to move ’em out, we’re going to move ’em back in if they’re really good people.” Trump provided no details as to how he would determine which immigrants were “the good ones” and how the process for deporting millions of people and bringing tens of thousands back to the U.S. would work.

On July 27, Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) met with immigration advocates about the state’s participation in the lawsuit seeking to halt President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Kasich, who previously indicated that he was not in favor of joining the lawsuit, expressed opposition to the Obama Administration’s actions, but promised to make some “phone calls” about Ohio’s participation in the lawsuit. The same day, advocates also met with former Sen. and State Attorney General Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), who defended his actions to join the lawsuit.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) also discussed immigration this week at a forum hosted by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Sanders rejected “open border” policies,  arguing that true open borders would suppress wages and limit job opportunities for low-skilled American workers. He did, however, reaffirm his support for immigration reform, arguing that he did not believe in deporting undocumented immigrants already in the country: “If suddenly, every undocumented worker in this country disappears, the economy would collapse.”

Government Reports

Congressional Research Service: Sanctuary Jurisdictions and Criminal Aliens: In Brief, July 24, 2015

This report examines the collaborative relationship established between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and state and local law enforcement by three ICE programs: the Criminal Alien Program, Secure Communities (replaced by the Priority Enforcement Program under President Obama’s Immigration Accountability Executive Action), and the 287(g) program. Although most state and local arrests are of U.S. citizens, the ICE programs aim to engage state and local law enforcement agents to reinforce the immigration enforcement capacities of ICE.

The report explains that the recent shooting of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco brought to the forefront of discussion jurisdictions with policies that limit their collaboration with ICE in enforcing federal immigration policy. Critics contend that such policies create “sanctuary” jurisdictions that encourage illegal immigration, while others argue that lack of available resources limits the capacity of local jurisdictions to enforce federal immigration law and that local enforcement of federal immigration laws harms the relationship between local law enforcement and community members. Finally, the report discusses potential congressional action, including several proposals to cut federal funding to “sanctuary” jurisdictions.

U.S. Government Accountability Office: Central America: Improved Evaluation Efforts Could Enhance Agency Programs to Reduce Unaccompanied Child Migration, July 29, 2015

This report reviews U.S. efforts in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to address causes of unaccompanied alien child (UAC) migration, how federal agencies determine where to focus these efforts, and the processes agencies employ to assess program effectiveness. The recent surge in Central American UAC migration to the U.S., related to an increase in human smuggling, confusion about U.S. immigration policy, and persistent violence and poverty, prompted U.S. agencies to develop new programs to supplement to existing efforts to address child migration.

The report states that U.S. agencies consider long-term priorities and other factors such as crime, violence, and migration levels when determining in which communities to locate programs. It also affirms that most agencies implement processes to assess program effectiveness, but highlights weaknesses of the assessment processes of anti-smuggling programs. The report concludes with recommendations that U.S. agencies establish targets for performance measures and account for evaluation during the planning and implementation of future programs.

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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.