Legislative Bulletin – Friday, June 9, 2017

Policy and Advocacy Associate

June 9, 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. 2213

Anti-Border Corruption Reauthorization Act of 2017

The bill would provide the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with discretionary authority to exempt existing law enforcement officers and veterans who meet certain requirements from undergoing a polygraph examination as part of the CBP hiring process.

Sponsored by Representative Martha McSally (R – Arizona) (6 cosponsors)

01/27/2016 Introduced in the House by Representative McSally

04/27/2016 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security

05/03/2017 Marked up and passed unanimously by the Homeland Security Committee

06/07/2017 Passed in the House by a 282 to 137 vote

H.R. 2788

A Bill to Expand Access to Health Care Services for Immigrant Women, Men and Families by Removing Legal Barriers to Health Insurance Coverage, And for Other Purposes

Sponsored by Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham (D -New Mexico) (31 cosponsors)

06/06/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Lujan Grisham

06/06/2017 Referred to the House Committees on Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce

S. 1305

Customs and Border Protection Hiring and Retention (CBP HiRe) Act

The bill allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to provide recruitment, relocation and retention incentives to applicants for law enforcement positions in remote and rural areas to help meet the agency’s congressionally-mandated staffing levels. The bill also prohibits CBP from disclosing an applicant’s polygraph results with another federal agency, even if the applicant failed the polygraph examination.

Sponsored by Senator Jeff Flake (R – Arizona) (1 cosponsor)

6/07/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Flake

6/07/2017 Referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Office

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives will be in session the week of Monday, June 12, 2017.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Rules Committee Meeting

Includes Consideration of the Verify First Act (H.R. 2581), which would require the provision of social security numbers as a condition to receive health insurance premium tax credit.

Date: Monday, June 12, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. (House Rules)

Location: H-313 The Capitol

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) & Customs and Border Protection (CBP) FY 2018 Budget Request

Date: Tuesday, June 13, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. (House Appropriations)

Location: 2008 Rayburn House Office Building

Witnesses:

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

John P. Wagner, Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner, Customs and Border Protection

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

Review of the FY 2018 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Justice

Date: Tuesday, June 13, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. (Senate Appropriations)

Location: 192 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Witness:

The Honorable Jeff Sessions, Attorney General

Department of Justice Budget Hearing

Date: Tuesday, June 13 at 2:00 p.m. (House Appropriations)

Location: 2359 Rayburn House Office Building

Witness:

The Honorable Jeff Sessions, Attorney General

Executive Business Meeting

Includes Committee Vote on the Nomination of Lee Francis Cissna to serve as Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Date: Thursday, June 15, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. (Senate Judiciary)

Location: 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Helping Americans Get Back to Work: Implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act provides workforce development initiatives for all Americans, including some immigrants.

Date: Thursday, June 15, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. (House Education and the Workforce)

Location: 2175 Rayburn House Office Building

Witnesses: TBD

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Kelly Testifies Before Senate, House Homeland Security Committees

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly testified on June 6 and 7 before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on Homeland Security. The hearings centered on the President’s DHS budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2018 and DHS reauthorization, but Secretary Kelly and Members of Congress discussed a number of different immigration topics. Secretary Kelly said that the department has been “overly cautious” in following the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s instruction regarding the President’s travel ban, but has worked with the State Department to enhance and add more vetting to the visa process. Secretary Kelly also noted that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is not targeting DACA recipients. Secretary Kelly urged Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to address DACA legislatively. He said that ICE and DHS do not deport people, but that the law does and Congress must find a legislative solution if they want to change the law.  Furthermore, Secretary Kelly said that he is willing to talk with local law enforcement jurisdictions to ensure that they are compliant with federal immigration requests in a manner that they are comfortable with and is within the interpretation of the law, but did not offer an answer as to whether he would withhold federal DHS funding.

House Approves Bill Waiving Polygraph Examination for Certain CBP Candidates

The House passed a bill on June 7 that would give the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) the authority to exempt existing law enforcement officers and veterans who meet certain requirements from undergoing a polygraph examination in an effort to speed up the CBP hiring process. The bill, which passed by a 282 to 137 vote, allows CBP to waive the polygraph examination for law enforcement who passed a polygraph test in the last ten years and were not found guilty and are not under investigation for misconduct, and veterans who served in the military for at least three years, passed a high level security check in the past five years and passed a background check.

CBP has struggled over the years to hire enough agent to meet the Border Patrol’s congressionally-mandated staffing level of 21,370 agents, in part because up to 60 percent of job applicants fail the polygraph test. CBP currently has 1,800 vacancies in the Border Patrol. However, there are concerns that waiving the test would lower the agency’s standards.

Enforcement Priorities Continue to Affect Undocumented Immigrants Who Previously Received Reprieve from Deportation

The expanded priorities for deportation set in place on February 21, 2017, which make almost all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. a priority for removal, continue to result in cases of individuals who previously received reprieve from deportation from the government facing removal proceedings.

In May 2017, officials told Jessica Colotl, a former Kennesaw State University student in Georgia who was brought to the United States at age 11, that her Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) had been denied for renewal. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that because Colotl admitted to a 2011 charge of giving a false address to law enforcement, she was in line with immigration “enforcement priorities.” Colotl said that it was not a false address, but that her family had simply moved. In a federal court hearing on June 8, Colotl asked that DHS be ordered to temporarily reinstate her protection under the program while DHS reconsiders Colotl’s application. Government attorneys argued that the program gives officials discretion to decide on cases as they see fit. The judge stated that he would rule on the matter next week. Without DACA, Colotl is susceptible to be removed from the United States.

Furthermore, in Hawaii, Andres Magana Ortiz, a coffee farmer with three U.S. citizen children and an American wife who has been in the United States for 30 years, was ordered to report for removal back to Mexico. Magana Ortiz was granted a 30-day stay on June 8, minutes after he had boarded a plane to return to Mexico, but still faces removal proceedings. Magana Ortiz became a notable coffee farmer in Hawaii’s Kona region and even aided the U.S. Department of Agriculture by giving it free access to his farm to conduct a five-year study on crop pests. A removal proceeding for Magana Ortiz began in 2011, but he was granted permission to stay until Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ordered Magana Ortiz in March 2017 to report for removal.

Meanwhile, Juana Luz Tobar Ortega moved into St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Greensboro, North Carolina after she was ordered to leave the country by May 31, despite checking in with ICE and receiving temporary reprieves from deportation since 2011. Tobar Ortega came to the United States 24 years ago and is the grandmother of two U.S. citizens. The St. Barnabas Episcopal Church voted unanimously to provide sanctuary to Tobar Ortega. In addition, Carlos Larios, a father of two U.S. citizens, was ordered to leave the U.S. within 30 days after meeting with ICE during an annual scheduled check-in on June 1. Larios’ employer, Jay Harvey, said that Larios is a manager at Shield Construction. Harvey said he may have to shut down his company if Larios is deported because it could not function without Larios’ leadership.

Labor Department Increases Efforts to Confront Potential Fraud in Visa Programs

U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced on June 6 that the Department of Labor is increasing its efforts to eliminate potential fraud in its visa programs for foreign workers. Acosta said it is now the policy of the department to “enforce vigorously all laws…governing the administration and enforcement of non-immigrant visa programs” to prevent entities from committing visa program fraud and abuse. Acosta directed specific department agencies to use all available tools in conducting civil investigations to enforce labor protections, make referrals of criminal fraud to the Office of Inspector General, and develop a proposal of changes to the Labor Condition Application, which companies file when hiring a foreign worker through the H-1B visa program. The announcement follows a review of the H-1B Visa program ordered by President Trump in April 2017.

Legal

President Trump’s Tweets May Impact “Travel Ban” Challenge

President Trump tweeted on June 5 that the Justice Department should not have sought a “watered down, politically correct version” of his executive order barring nationals from six predominantly Muslim nations from entering the United States, and stated that it should be called a “travel ban.” The Trump Administration had previously refrained from referring to the March 6th Executive Order as a “travel ban,” and legal experts believe that the President’s statements on Twitter might undermine the administration’s legal arguments.

On June 1, the Trump Administration asked the Supreme Court to restore the travel ban established by an executive order in March. This request follows the U.S. Court of Appeals for Fourth Circuit’s May 25 decision which held that the executive order was likely unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Supporters of the executive order argue that the travel ban is within the president’s power to protect the country against terrorism and promote national security while challengers argue that the ban is explicitly based on religious animus.

State & Local

Texas Cities Sue State Government Over S.B. 4

The cities of Austin, Dallas and San Antonio, as well as El Paso County, are among local jurisdictions that have filed legal challenges to S.B. 4, the state’s law to ban so-called sanctuary cities, with Houston planning to join the legal challenge soon. S.B. 4, which Governor Greg Abbott (R – Texas) signed on May 7, would prohibit local jurisdictions from implementing so-called sanctuary policies and impose stiff civil and criminal penalties on cities, counties and law enforcement that decide to limit their involvement in federal immigration enforcement. The cities voiced concerns about how the law will affect local policing, noting that it will divert resources away from public safety to enforcing federal immigration laws.

On June 7, a San Antonio federal district court announced that it would consolidate the lawsuits filed by all of the cities against the bill and designate the city of El Cenizo as the lead plaintiff. The federal judge slated to hear the sanctuary cities’ lawsuits, District Court Judge Orlando Garcia from the Western District of Texas, ruled in a separate case this week that the detention of a Mexican immigrant after dismissal of his criminal charges, which was done through a federal immigration detainer, violated the individual’s constitutional rights.

Michigan State House Committee Passes Ban on “Sanctuary Cities”

The Michigan State House Committee on Local Government approved two bills on June 7 that would prevent cities and townships from adopting so-called sanctuary city policies that limit their cooperation in enforcing federal immigration laws beyond what federal law requires. The bills, H.B. 4105 and H.B. 4334, prevent any entities from adopting or enforcing any local ordinances that limit “communication or cooperating” with federal immigration officials concerning the immigration status of individuals. The Committee heard from more than a dozen witnesses expressing their opposition to the bill, with no witnesses speaking in support of the bills. Critics said that the bills are too vague and could lead to lawsuits against local law enforcement by requiring them to honor federal immigration detainers, which are requests to keep an individual in jail beyond the time they would normally be released. Federal court decisions have found that immigration detainers can be unconstitutional, which creates legal liability for localities that honor them, and that honoring them is voluntary. Local officials also noted that their law enforcement are not trained to do immigration work, and they could inadvertently violate other constitutional protections. The bills were approved by a party-line 7 to 4 vote and now go to the House floor.

North Carolina Legislature Considers Banning Faith Action ID Cards

The North Carolina General Assembly is considering legislation that would eliminate the Faith Action identification card created four years ago by members of the North Carolina faith community to give undocumented immigrants a form of identification and prevent their arrests for not carrying proper identification. Sixteen local law enforcement jurisdictions in North Carolina currently accept the Faith Action ID as a form of identification, but it cannot be used as a driver’s license. About 4,000 Faith Action IDs have been issued in the state.

The bill, S.B. 145, which has already passed the North Carolina State Senate, includes a provision that prevents local law enforcement from accepting IDs like Faith Action’s as a form of identification. Supporters of this bill want law enforcement to only accept government-issued IDs, but opponents worry that the bill will erode the necessary and important relationship between law enforcement and the immigrant community S.B. 145 is currently awaiting North Carolina House committee approval.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

U.S. Government Accountability Office: Refugees: Actions Needed by State Department and DHS to Further Strengthen Applicant Screening Process and Assess Fraud Risks, June 7, 2017

This GAO report is a restricted product with either classified or controlled information and not publicly released at the moment.

U.S. Government Accountability Office: Refugees: State and Its Partners Have Implemented Several Antifraud Measures but Could Further Reduce the Risk of Staff Fraud, June 7, 2017

This GAO report is a restricted product with either classified or controlled information and not publicly released at the moment.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General: Results of Office Inspector General FY 2016 Spot Inspections of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Family Detention Facilities, June 9, 2017

This OIG report examines detention conditions in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s three family detention facilities. The report found that the facilities provided conditions that “generally met” ICE’s 2007 Family Residential Standards.

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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.