Legislative Bulletin – Friday, June 16, 2017

Policy and Advocacy Associate

June 16, 2017

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

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

H.R. 2581

Verify First Act

This bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code by requiring that an individual’s citizenship and immigration status be verified before they can receive advance tax payments.

Sponsored by Representative Lou Barletta (R – Pennsylvania) (14 cosponsors)

05/22/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Barletta

05/22/2017 Referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce

06/13/2017 Passed in the House by a 238 to 184 vote

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Tuesday, June 20, 2017 through Friday, June 23, 2017.

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, June 19, 2017.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Combating Gang Violence on Long Island: Shutting Down the MS-13 Pipeline

Date: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 9:30 AM (House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence)

Location: 100 Federal Plaza, Central Islip, New York

Witnesses: TBD

The MS-13 Problem: Investigating Gang Membership, its Nexus to Illegal Immigration, and Federal Efforts to End the Threat

Date: Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 10:00 AM (Committee on the Judiciary)

Location: 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Witnesses:

Carla Provost, Acting Chief, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Scott Lloyd, Director, Office of Refugee Resettlement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Kenneth Blanco, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice

Matthew Albence, Executive Associate Director, Enforcement and Removal Operations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Derek Benner, Acting Executive Associate Director, Homeland Security Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Executive Business Meeting

Includes Consideration of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2017 (S. 1312) and the Abolish Human Trafficking Act of 2017 (S. 1311). 

Date: Thursday, June 22, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. (Senate Judiciary)

Location: 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Full Committee Markup

Includes Consideration of the Protection of Children Act (H.R. 495) and the Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act (H.R. 2826). 

Date: TBD (House Judiciary)

Location: TBD

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Secretary Kelly Rescinds DAPA and Expanded DACA; DHS Says Original DACA Not Affected

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly signed a memorandum on June 15 rescinding a November 20, 2014 DHS memo that created Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The executive actions, which would provide temporary deportation relief and employment authorization for approximately five million undocumented immigrants, most of them parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, were blocked by a federal judge in 2015 after 26 states sued the Obama administration. The Supreme Court deadlocked on the issue in 2016 by a 4 to 4 vote, which left the preliminary injunction in place. As a result, DAPA and expanded DACA were enjoined nationwide and never fully went into effect. DHS said that DAPA and expanded DACA were rescinded because “there is no credible path forward to litigate the currently enjoined policy.”

At the same time, DHS’ announcement noted that the June 15, 2012 memorandum that created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which provides temporary deportation relief and employment authorization to approximately 750,000 young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, remains in effect. DHS stated that the rescission of DAPA and expanded DACA “will not affect the terms of the original DACA program,” and recipients will continue to be eligible as outlined in the original guidelines. DHS also noted that DACA recipients who were issued three-year extensions before the federal court’s injunction will not be affected and will be eligible to seek a two-year extension upon expiration. On June 16, the White House clarified that President Trump has not made a decision about the long-term fate of the program and might yet decide to eliminate it.

The rescission of DAPA and expanded DACA coincided with the fifth anniversary of DACA.

Acting ICE Director Says Undocumented Immigrants Should “Be Worried”

Thomas Homan, Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told the House Appropriations Committee on June 13 that the Trump Administration will continue to arrest undocumented immigrants without criminal convictions and that anyone living without documentation in the country should be “uncomfortable” and “worried.” Homan met before the Appropriations Committee to discuss ICE’s budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2018, including a $1.2 billion budget request increase. Homan said during the hearing that it was important to arrest non-criminal undocumented immigrants, because not doing so would send a message that it is possible to live in the U.S. without documentation as long as individuals are not caught breaking another law. Homan also defended public arrests by ICE, including those near sensitive locations such as schools and churches. Homan argued that local law enforcement agencies that decline to honor ICE immigration detainers, which have been found by courts to be legally questionable, lead the agency to conduct raids in more public locations. In addition, Homan defended the arrest of a 19 year-old student hours before his prom, saying that the student was subject to a final removal order and that if people have a final deportation order, they should not feel comfortable living in the U.S.

CBP Apprehensions Continue to Fall, Departing from Historic Trend

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detained 19,967 undocumented immigrants along the southwest border in May 2017, a 64 percent decrease compared to same period last year. The 19,967 total apprehensions are comprised of 14,535 undocumented immigrants apprehended between ports of entry and 5,432 inadmissible individuals apprehended at ports of entry. In April 2017, CBP apprehended about 15,780 people, the smallest number of apprehensions for a month in at least five years. Historically, the overall number of apprehensions at the southwest border has peaked during the February through June time frame.

Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Nominee for USCIS Director

On June 15, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Lee Francis Cissna’s nomination to serve as the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by a 17 to 2 vote, with only two Democratic senators voting against the nomination. Cissna, a Director of Immigration Policy in the Office of Policy of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), faced questions in his May 24 confirmation hearing about his management experience and his work as a volunteer on the Trump transition, working on immigration policy. Cissna faced opposition from some immigration groups. The nomination moves forward to a final confirmation vote in the Senate.

House Passes Bill Barring Undocumented Immigrants from Healthcare Tax Credits

The House passed the Verify First Act on June 13 by a largely party-line 238 to 184 vote. The bill, which was introduced by Representative Lou Barletta (R – Pennsylvania), would require the Social Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to verify that an individual is a citizen, national or legal immigrant before providing access to tax credits for health insurance premiums. The bill requires that the verification process include information related to citizenship or immigration status, such as a Social Security number, but not individual taxpayer identification numbers. Progressive immigration and healthcare advocates opposed the bill, arguing that many people who are eligible to receive health benefits but face delays in establishing their eligibility for insurance coverage due to errors in electronic databases will be temporarily disqualified from receiving the benefits.

Legal

Supreme Court Strikes Down Gender Distinction in U.S. Citizenship Law

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down a citizenship law that differentiated between U.S. citizen fathers and U.S. citizen mothers when conferring citizenship on children born outside of the country. Under the law, children born outside the U.S. to an unwed U.S. citizen father and a noncitizen mother could become an American citizen at birth if the father lived in the U.S. for at least five years, with two of those years coming after the age of 14. However, a U.S. citizen mother was only required to have lived in the U.S. for one year. The Supreme Court ruled that the law itself was unconstitutional and determined that the stricter standard that previously applied only to children born outside the U.S. to U.S. citizen fathers should also apply to those born outside the U.S. to U.S. citizen mothers.

The ruling did not provide relief to the law’s challenger, Luis Ramon Morales-Santana, who was born to an unwed U.S. citizen father. Morales-Santana claimed that the shorter one-year period must apply to both unwed fathers and mothers. The court invited Congress to take legislative action to settle on a uniform prescription that does not favor or disadvantage on the basis of gender.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Keeps Travel Ban Injunction in Place

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled on June 12 that the Trump Administration violated federal law by failing to provide a valid reason for keeping people from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. The Ninth Circuit’s ruling, which followed a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit last month that held that the ban was unconstitutional for violating the Establishment Clause, keeps the travel ban blocked. The Ninth Circuit also held that the administration may conduct an internal vetting procedures for refugees and visa applicants. Unlike the Fourth Circuit decision, the Ninth Circuit did not decide whether or not the ban violated the U.S. Constitution, instead basing its decision on statutory grounds.

On June 14, the Trump administration moved to amend the start date of the ban to avoid the administration’s legal case to be moot before reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. The travel was set to expire on June 14, 90 days after the executive order was signed by President Trump. The White House stated that the start date of the travel ban would officially go into effect if and when court injunctions were lifted.

Federal Court Orders Government to Reinstate DACA Protection for Georgia Dreamer

A federal judge in Atlanta ruled on June 12 that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must reinstate Jessica Colotl’s protection from deportation under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) while the agency reconsiders her eligibility. Colotl, 29, was brought to the United States at age 11. She graduated from Kennesaw State University and was working as a paralegal in an immigration law firm. Colotl’s DACA status was revoked in May 2017 after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stated that she was an enforcement priority because she admitted to making a false statement to a local law enforcement officer in 2011. Because the charges were dismissed upon Colotl’s admission into a pretrial diversion agreement, Colotl’s offense was not considered a conviction for purposes of immigration law. As a result, Colotl sued to reinstate her DACA protection.

In issuing a preliminary injunction, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Cohen wrote that federal immigration authorities “failed to present any evidence that they complied with their own administrative processes and procedures” in terminating Colotl’s DACA participation. Cohen also noted that President Trump’s February 2017 memo expanding interior immigration enforcement does not directly apply to DACA and, that at all relevant times, Colotl met the eligibility requirements for DACA. Cohen ordered the government to reconsider its decision to cancel her DACA participation and, consistent with its procedures, grant her a renewal.

State & Local

ICE Targets Detroit-Area Iraqi Christians for Deportation

In recent weeks, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested approximately 200 Iraqi Christians, including dozens of Chaldean Christians from Metro Detroit. The arrests followed a May deal between the Iraqi and the U.S. governments earlier this year, when Iraq agreed to start accepting deportees who do not have passports or travel documents in exchange for being removed from President Trump’s travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. Faith leaders and other community members expressed concern that Iraqi Christians may face religious persecution and possible harm if returned to Iraq. A number of Kurdish Iraqis from the Nashville, Tennessee area were also arrested by ICE as part of the enforcement effort.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Congressional Research Service: Comparing DHS Component Funding, FY 2017: Fact Sheet, June 14, 2017 (by William L. Painter)

This fact sheet compares the DHS budget enacted for fiscal year (FY) 2016, the funding levels requested by the Obama Administration for FY 2017, the amounts provided in the Senate-reported and House-reported appropriations bills for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the first five titles of the FY 2017 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act. The report also reviews the supplemental funding requested by President Trump and incorporated into a sixth title of the FY 2017 DHS appropriations bill.

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