Legislative Bulletin – Friday, June 30, 2017
Policy and Advocacy Associate
June 30, 2017
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2017
This bill would introduce provisions to aid the fight against human trafficking in the United States.
Sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) (14 cosponsors)
06/07/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Grassley
06/07/2017 Referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee
06/29/2017 Marked-up and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously
Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act of 2017
This bill would amend aspects of the Immigration and Nationality Act that detail United States refugee policies. The bill caps annual refugee admissions at 50,000, authorizes the President to submit an adjustment recommendation to Congress based on humanitarian concerns and requires that the President submit emergency refugee admission recommendations to Congress for approval.
Sponsored by Representative Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) (9 cosponsors)
06/08/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Labrador
06/08/2017 Referred to the House Judiciary Committee
6/28/2017 Marked-up and passed the House Judiciary Committee by a 15-12 vote
No Sanctuary for Criminals Act
This bill would require jurisdictions to honor immigration detainers, bars jurisdictions from adopting or maintaining community trust policies, and expands mandatory detention for a broad cross-section of immigration violators. Jurisdictions found not to be in compliance with H.R. 3003 would be at risk of losing important funding, including crucial law enforcement grants.
Sponsored by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R- Virginia) (15 cosponsors)
06/22/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Goodlatte
06/27/2017 Reported to the House by the House Rules Committee
06/29/2017 Passed the House by a 228-195 vote
This bill would increase the punishment for those who attempt to reenter the United States after being deported or convicted of certain other felonies.
Sponsored by Representative Bob Goodlatte (17 cosponsors)
06/22/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Goodlatte
06/27/2017 Reported to the House by the House Rules Committee
06/29/2017 Passed House by a 257-167 vote
This bill would amend title 10 of the United States Code in order to aid the naturalization process for members of the United States Armed Forces who are not yet citizens.
Sponsored by Representative Mark Veasey (D-Texas) (10 cosponsors)
06/28/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Veasey
06/28/20117 Referred to the House Committee on Armed Forces
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate will not be in session the week of Monday, July 3, 2017.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
There are no immigration-related hearings or markups scheduled for the week that ends on Friday, July 7, 2017.
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
Supreme Court Agrees to Review the Travel Ban in the Fall, Allows Limited Version of Executive Order to Take Effect
On June 26, the Supreme Court consolidated and granted certiorari for the two lawsuits challenging President Trump’s Executive Order 13780 brought by the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) in the Fourth Circuit and from the state of Hawaii in the Ninth Circuit. The District Courts issued injunctions on the executive order’s sections banning nationals from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days following the order’s effective date, and suspending refugee admissions for 120 days. The Courts of Appeals upheld these rulings.
Following Trump’s request for a stay in early June, the Supreme Court narrowed the scope of the injunctions and held that the executive order may not be enforced against individuals who have a good faith relationship with a person (a “close familial relationship”) or entity (an employment contract) in the U.S. For those with no such ties, the Court explained, the Government’s interest in protecting national security takes precedence and the ban would be enforced.
On June 29, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued guidelines regarding enforcement of the executive order in compliance with the Court decision. According to the guidelines, a “close familial relationship” will not include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law and any other “extended” family members. Additionally, the Trump administration does not consider preexisting relationships between refugees and resettlement agencies as satisfying the Court’s guidance. The administration has faced criticism for interpreting the decision too narrowly.
The Court will hear oral arguments for the two consolidated cases during the October 2017 term.
Ten States Request that White House Ends DACA, Threaten to Sue
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R – Texas), joined by officials from nine other states, threatened to take legal action against the Trump Administration on a June 29 letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions if the administration does not end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The letter requests that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) phase out the June 15, 2012 DACA memorandum by not renewing or issuing any new work permits and protections from deportation. This would leave about 750,000 DACA enrollees, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, unable to work legally in the U.S. and subject to deportation. The letter states that, if DHS does not begin to phase out DACA by September 5, 2017, the ten states would amend their lawsuit challenging Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded DACA in the Southern District of Texas to incorporate additional claims challenging DACA.
DHS revoked guidance establishing DAPA on June 15 after determining that there was no credible path to litigate the policy, which was enjoined by federal court decisions in 2015 before its implementation. The injunction was upheld by an equally-divided Supreme Court in June 2016.
Judge Directs DHS to Follow Terms of Flores Settlement Agreement
U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee issued an order on June 27 enforcing the terms of the Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA) reached in 1997 following a class action against the then-Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), a precursor to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Agreement sets a presumption in favor of releasing minors to a parent, legal guardian, adult relative or designated individual, and, where detention is required to ensure their safety or their appearance before the INS or an immigration court, children are to be placed in non-secure, licensed facilities meeting certain standards.
The plaintiffs in Flores v. Sessions argued (and the Court found) that DHS breached several terms of the FSA by failing to provide, among other things, clean drinking water, adequate food and proper sleeping and sanitary conditions. In addition, the order requires DHS to make and document continuous efforts to release minors through making individualized assessments regarding each minor’s flight risk. Finally, DHS has to nominate a Juvenile Coordinator within 30 days of the order to review and monitor compliance with the FSA and report to the Court for one year following the order.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and other immigrants’ rights advocates welcomed Judge Gee’s order, which raises hopes that a Juvenile Coordinator will encourage compliance with the settlement agreement and eventually help bring family detention to an end.
Federal Judge Freezes Deportations of Chaldean Iraqis
On June 26, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith issued a nationwide stay of removal for 1,444 Chaldean Christians from Iraq on the grounds that they are likely to face “extreme, grave consequences” on account of religion if deported to Iraq. The ruling expanded on Judge Goldsmith’s action last week, which halted the deportation of 114 Iraqi nationals from the Detroit area, to include more Iraqi Chaldean Christians at immediate risk of deportation. The Iraqi nationals will now have two more weeks to challenge their orders of removal in court.
Many of the Chaldean Christians have asserted that they will face religious persecution and be in danger if returned to Iraq, including the risk of death. Faith leaders and other community members expressed concerns about the immigration arrests of Iraqi Christians. The arrests followed a deal between the Iraqi and U.S. governments earlier this year, under which 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 of seven Muslim-majority countries.
House Passes Immigration Enforcement Bills to Crack Down on “Sanctuary Jurisdictions,” Border Crossers
On June 29, the House of Representative passed two immigration enforcement bills that would have a dramatic impact on interior immigration enforcement in the United States.
The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act (H.R. 3003) passed by a 228 to 195 vote. The bill would require jurisdictions to honor federal immigration detainers, which have been found to be legally questionable, prohibit jurisdictions from maintaining or adopting local community trust policies that restrict officers from inquiring about the immigration status of individuals and expand mandatory detention of immigration violators, including to those with decades-old driving-while-intoxicated offenses and providing no opportunity to receive bond. Jurisdictions that violate H.R. 3003 would possibly lose broad categories of federal grants relating to law enforcement, terrorism, national security, or immigration and naturalization.
In addition, Kate’s Law (H.R. 3004), sponsored by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R – Virginia), passed by a 257 to 167 vote. The bill, named after Kate Steinle, would increase criminal penalties for those charged with unauthorized reentry to the U.S. after previously being deported. The bill would also make it more difficult for those with reentry offenses to challenge previous removal orders, even if it was unfair or erroneous, and expands the definition of “crosses the border” and “removal” to apply to more people, including asylum seekers.
President Trump and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly praised the two bills. Kelly, in an appearance at Capitol Hill with Speaker Paul Ryan, said the bills would help uphold the law of the U.S. and stop prioritizing “criminals over public and law enforcement officer safety.” However, immigrant advocacy organizations and law enforcement groups, including the National Fraternal Order of Police and members of the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force, expressed concerns with the legislation, noting that it would prevent law enforcement from maintaining community trust and would divert resources away from pursuing dangerous criminals and criminal organizations.
ICE Plans to Target Parents of Unaccompanied Children
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reportedly plans to target sponsors of unaccompanied children, including parents and other relatives who allegedly paid people to bring the children across the border, as part of a larger “surge initiative” to combat smuggling operations. The initiative would aim to identify and arrest parents, relatives and family friends who have come forward to sponsor unaccompanied children during their immigration proceedings. Without sponsors, the children may remain in detention centers or be placed in foster care. Nearly 170,000 unaccompanied children have been placed with sponsors across the U.S. since October 2013. Many of these children were fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Defense Department Mulls Cancelling MAVNI Program for Non-Citizen Military Service Members
According to a report in the Washington Post on June 26, the Department of Defense (DOD) is considering scaling back or ending the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program. The Pentagon is weighing whether to cancel enlistment contracts for all 1,800 MAVNI enlistees awaiting orders for basic training or whether to end the program altogether.
MAVNI was created during the administration of George W. Bush in order to mitigate critical gaps among personnel in the Armed Forces. Under MAVNI, vetted individuals who are not permanent residents, but have needed skills like medical training and language translation, may serve in the military and eventually obtain naturalization.
At the start of the program, MAVNI recruits – who encounter more intensive security screenings than their native-born counterparts – were eligible for the same security clearances as U.S. citizen recruits. However, after DOD changed its security standards for MAVNI recruits in September 2016, MAVNI recruits became ineligible for security clearances until after the completion of their first enlistment, which severely limited the ability of many MAVNI servicepeople to move forward with their military careers and created a significant backlog of applications, leading to the temporary suspension of the program. MAVNI was temporarily suspended in late 2016 and is not accepting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2017. While the MAVNI program was renewed through September 30, 2017, its future remains unclear, leaving the legal status of MAVNI soldiers in limbo as they await their orders for basic training.
Since 2009, more than 10,400 individuals have enlisted or served in the U.S. military through MAVNI. Approximately 10,000 of those enlistees are still in the service or waiting to serve. In addition, about 1,000 of those recruits have had their visas expire while awaiting travel orders, which puts them at risk of deportation if their contracts are cancelled.
State & Local
Arizona Public Universities Will Continue to Offer In-State Tuition for DACA Recipients
Public universities in Arizona announced on June 29 that they will continue to provide in-state tuition for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients despite a June 20 ruling by the Arizona Court of Appeals that found undocumented students do not qualify for state benefits. The Arizona Board of Regents voted during a special session to keep the lower in-state tuition policy, which could affect up to 28,000 DACA recipients who live in Arizona. Bill Ridenour, Board of Regents Vice Chair, said that until the Arizona Supreme Court provides a final ruling, the Board of Regents felt comfortable in continuing to offer in-state tuition for DACA recipients.
The Court of Appeals decision, which is being appealed by the Maricopa County Community College, overturned a lower-court judge’s decision that young immigrants with DACA were considered legally present in the U.S. and therefore qualified for state benefits like in-state tuition.
Congressional Research Service: Reception and Placement of Refugees in the United States, June 21, 2017 (by Andorra Bruno)
This report briefly details the U.S.’ process of resettling refugees throughout the country. The United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) determines where a refugee will be placed through the Department of State’s Reception and Placement Program (R&P). In determining where to place new refugees, the State Department requests proposals from interested local organizations that are interested in aiding resettlement and examines certain factors – including the location of a refugee’s family and the proportion of refugees to the local population – in making its decisions. The report noted that in FY2017, local affiliates of the State Department and its R&P program receive $2,075 per refugee for the resettlement process. As of May 31, 2017, the District of Columbia and every state but Wyoming has accepted refugee arrivals.
* * *
*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 email@example.com. Thank you.