Legislative Bulletin – Friday, June 2, 2017

Policy and Advocacy Associate

June 2, 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. 2751

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Authorization Act

This bill would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to formally authorize U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement.

Sponsored by Representative Clay Higgins (R – Louisiana) (2 cosponsors)

5/26/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Higgins

5/26/2017 Referred to the House Committees on Homeland Security, Judiciary, and Ways and Means

H.R. 2752

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Authorization Act

This bill would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to formally authorize United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Sponsored by Representative Clay Higgins (R – Louisiana) (2 cosponsors)

5/26/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Higgins

5/26/2017 Referred to the House Committees on Homeland Security and the Judiciary

H.R. 2759

The Naturalization at Training Sites (NATS) Act of 2017 

This bill would establish naturalization offices at initial military training sites to ensure that non-citizen servicemembers are well informed of the naturalization options available to them.

Sponsored by Representative Juan Vargas (D – California) (9 cosponsors)

5/26/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Vargas

5/26/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services

H.R. 2760

The Immigrant Veterans Eligibility Tracking System (I-VETS) Act of 2017

This bill would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to identify non-citizens who have served, or are serving, in the Armed Forces of the United States when those non-citizens apply for an immigration benefit or are placed in an immigration enforcement proceeding. This information will enable DHS to “fast track” veterans and servicemembers who are applying for naturalization, while also allowing officials to practice prosecutorial discretion, if appropriate, when adjudicating their cases.

Sponsored by Representative Juan Vargas (D – California) (8 cosponsors)

5/26/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Vargas

5/26/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 2761

The Healthcare Opportunities for Patriots in Exile (HOPE) Act of 2017 

This bill would amend section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow certain deported veterans to be paroled into the United States to receive health care furnished by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sponsored by Representative Juan Vargas (D – California) (9 cosponsors)

5/26/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Vargas

5/26/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, June 5, 2017.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Tuesday, June 6, 2017, through Friday, June 9, 2017.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

The Department of Homeland Security Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Request

Date: Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. (Senate Homeland Security)

Location: SD-342, Dirksen Senate Office Building

Witnesses:

The Honorable John F. Kelly, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security Reauthorization and the President’s FY 2018 Budget Request

Date: Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. (House Homeland Security)

Location: Room 210, House Capitol Visitor Center (HVC)

Witnesses:

The Honorable John F. Kelly, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security

Immigration and Customs Enforcement & Customs and Border Protection FY18 Budget Request

Date: Friday, June 9, 2017 at 8:00 a.m. (House Appropriations)

Location: 2008 Rayburn House Office Building

Witnesses:

Thomas D. Homan, Acting Director, Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Todd C. Owen, Executive Assistant Commissioner, Customs and Border Protection

Carla L. Provost, Acting Chief, United States Border Patrol

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

DHS Secretary Kelly Open to Further Extension of Haitian TPS

During his short visit to Haiti on May 31, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly expressed willingness to discuss further extension of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nearly 60,000 Haitians who were allowed to stay in the U.S. after a devastating 2010 earthquake. Kelly made the statement during a meeting with Haitian President Jovenel Moise, but noted that TPS is not intended to be “open-ended.”

In late May, DHS decided to extend TPS for Haitians for six additional months. A number of legislators, business leaders, and Haitian officials have argued that the country is not prepared for the return of thousands of people and that the program should have been extended for 18 months, the usual length of an extension. DHS will re-evaluate the designation for Haiti at least 60 days before January 22, 2018, when the most recent extension runs out. TPS allows another country’s nationals to stay in the U.S. when certain conditions, such as environmental disaster or armed conflict, make their country unable to support their return or if returning would be too dangerous.

The Trump Administration Approves a Stricter Visa-Vetting Process

On May 23, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved a new visa application questionnaire that requires the applicant to provide significant additional information. The new questionnaire requests the applicant’s social media handles from the past five years as well as biographical information from the past fifteen years, including all email addresses, phone numbers, and addresses. Critics claim that the new questions are overly burdensome and will give too much discretion to consular officials.

State Department Lifts Quotas on Weekly Refugee Admissions

In an email sent to private immigrant resettlement agencies, the State Department lifted a restriction on the number of refugees allowed to enter the United States. In accordance with that guidance, refugee resettlement groups may now bring individuals to the U.S. “unconstrained by the weekly quotas that were in place.” As a result of this policy, advocates believe the number of refugees entering the country could nearly double from approximately 830 people per week in the first three weeks of May to more than 1,500 people per week by June. There are currently tens of thousands of refugees waiting to be admitted to the U.S.

ICE Arrests of Unauthorized Non-Criminal Immigrants in New England More Than Triple

According to reports, recent immigration enforcement actions in New England by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have increasingly focused on unauthorized immigrants without criminal records. In the first three months of the Trump administration, ICE data indicates that the number of non-criminal immigrant arrests in the New England region has more than tripled, while nationwide the number has doubled.

Experts: Immigration Crackdown May Impair Economic Growth

At a May 31 panel at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, economic experts warned that an immigration crackdown   could slow U.S. GDP growth. According to Robert Kaplan, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Trump administration efforts to ramp up immigration enforcement are already affecting the economy, leading immigrant consumers to stay home and refrain from buying consumer goods.  “Those people will be more likely to save than spend,” which in turn has an “effect on consumer spending and therefore GDP growth,” Kaplan added.  An immigration crackdown will also significantly limit the size of the U.S. workforce, further dimming the economy, noted Mark Zandi, Moody’s Analytics chief economist. Zandi estimated that the resulting decline in economic growth will reduce the total economic output by nearly $100 billion by 2021.

MPI Study: Nearly Half of New Immigrants Arrive with College Degrees

According to a recent study from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), nearly half of immigrant adults who came to the U.S. between 2011 and 2015 (48 percent) arrived as college graduates, compared to 27 percent of those arriving between 1986 and 1990. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the MPI fact sheet New Brain Gain: Rising Human Capital among Recent Immigrants to the United States shows that approximately half of these immigrants with college degrees were from Asia. MPI also found that Latin Americans comprise the second-largest group of arriving immigrants with college degrees, and that immigrants who have received temporary visas are more educated than other immigrant groups.

Legal

Trump Administration Appeals Travel Ban Decision to the Supreme Court

On June 1, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to review and restore the travel ban instituted by a revised executive order from March. This request follows a May 25 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Fourth Circuit which held that the executive order was likely unconstitutional under the First Amendment. The administration has also sought a stay of a separate decision from a federal court in Hawaii blocking the ban. Supporters of the executive order, which restricts immigration from six majority Muslim countries, argue that the travel ban is within the president’s power to protect the country against terrorism and promote national security while other organizations say that the ban is explicitly based on religious intolerance.

The court may potentially leave the Fourth Circuit decision blocking the ban in place prior to hearing the case in fall 2017, or may issue a stay of the decision in the interim, allowing the ban to move forward. Since the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch, the Court is at its full nine justices, and the Trump administration will need at least five justices to permit the ban to take effect.

Supreme Court Clarifies Standards for Crime-Based Deportations

On Tuesday, May 30, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court helped clarify the standards governing crime-based deportations in Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions. In a unanimous decision authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Court analyzed which crimes are considered “aggravated felonies” triggering mandatory deportation under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The Court determined that legal permanent resident (LPR) Juan Esquivel-Quintana did not commit an aggravated felony under the statute for having consensual sex with his 16 year old girlfriend when he was 20 and 21 years old.

Rejecting a categorical approach to determining aggravated felonies under the INA, the Court surveyed state laws governing statutory rape to determine on statutory grounds that “sexual abuse of a minor” encompasses “only egregious felonies” under the INA. Because the majority of states set the age of consent at 16 years of age, Esquival-Quintana’s offense did not constitute an aggravated felony under federal law.

In 2009, Esquivel-Quintana pleaded no contest in California to “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor who is more than three years younger.” California is one of only 10 states that defines the age of consent at 18 years of age.

State & Local

Louisiana Anti-‘Sanctuary’ Legislation Defeated in Senate Committee

House Bill 676, a proposal to ban so-called sanctuary cities in Louisiana, was blocked by the state Senate Judiciary Committee on May 31. The bill, which faced pushback from a cross-section of center-right and progressive advocates, would have allowed the state attorney general to withhold funding to municipalities and law enforcement agencies with policies that limit cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Critics noted that the bill failed to precisely define what would constitute a “sanctuary city” and that New Orleans, a target of the legislation, does not consider itself a sanctuary city and is in full compliance with federal law. Senators who opposed the bill contended that it was discriminatory and the bill faced opposition from some faith and law enforcement leaders. House Bill 676 passed the Louisiana House passed the on May 17.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

There were no government reports on immigration or workforce development introduced in the week of May 29, 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 zjerabek@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.