Legislative Bulletin – Friday, March 24, 2017

Policy and Advocacy Associate

March 24, 2017

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

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

S. 653

Career and Technical Education State Flexibility Act

This bill would amend the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 to make the maintenance of effort provision less burdensome on States.

Sponsored by Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R – Utah) (1 cosponsors)

3/15/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Hatch

3/15/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP)

H.R. 1608

ICE and CBP Body Camera Accountability Act

This bill would require agents and officers of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to wear body cameras.

Sponsored by Representative Adriano Espaillat (D – New York) (32 cosponsors)

3/17/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Espaillat

3/17/2017 Referred to House Judiciary

3/17/2017 Referred to House Homeland Security

3/17/2017 Referred to House Ways and Means

H.R. 1627

This bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to reinstate the returning worker exemption for H-2B visas.

Sponsored by Representative Jack Bergman (R – Michigan) (6 cosponsors)

3/20/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Bergman

3/20/2017 Referred to House Judiciary Committee

H.R. 1633

Landing Pass Extension Act of 2017

This bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to extend the period of time for which a conditional permit to land temporarily may be granted to an alien crewman.

Sponsored by Representative Blake Farenthold (R – Texas) (0 cosponsors)

3/20/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Farenthold

3/20/2017 Referred to House Judiciary Committee

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of March 27, 2017.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, March 27, 2017, through Thursday, March 30, 2017.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Executive Business Meeting

This meeting will include consideration of Neil M. Gorsuch’s nomination to serve as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Date: Monday, March 27, 2017 at 12 p.m. (Senate Judiciary)

Location: 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Restoring Enforcement of our Nation’s Immigration Laws

Date: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at 10 a.m. (House Judiciary)

Location: 2141 Rayburn House Office Building

Witnesses: TBA

Nomination of Alex Acosta to serve as Secretary of Labor

Date: Thursday, March 30, 2017 at [Time TBD] (Senate HELP)

Location: 430 Dirksen Senate Office Building

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

DHS Publishes First Report on Declined Detainers; Officials Express Concerns

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) published its first weekly report today publicizing jurisdictions that decline to honor federal immigration detainers, federal requests to state and local law enforcement agencies to hold individuals suspected of being in the country without authorization. These reports follow guidelines from the Trump administration’s January 2017 executive order on interior immigration enforcement.

Some see the Weekly Declined Detainer Outcome Reports as an attempt to pressure jurisdictions to enforce immigration detainers, while the Trump administration states that the effort is to provide the public with information regarding criminal actions committed by undocumented immigrants and regarding which jurisdictions do not honor detainers.

In response to the report, a number of city officials and law enforcement leaders expressed concern about the report citing errors in the report and claiming that the White House published incorrect information or mischaracterized how their jurisdictions handle immigrant arrests.

On March 24, ICE released new policies concerning detainers and a new detainer form.

Tillerson Directs U.S. Diplomatic Missions to Toughen Visa Screenings

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson directed U.S. diplomatic missions abroad to identify “populations warranting increased security” and toughen visa screening for applicants in those groups. The memoranda, which were issued in four cables between March 10 and March 17, also direct a “mandatory social media check” for all applicants who have ever been present in territory controlled by the Islamic State. The cables were issued as part of the implementation of President Trump’s March 6 revised executive order temporarily barring visitors from six Muslim-majority countries, halting the entry of all refugees from entering the United States, and requiring heightened vetting and screening protocols. The final cable, issued on March 17 after a federal court enjoined key parts of the executive order, directs diplomatic missions to convene working groups of law enforcement and intelligence officials to “develop a list of criteria identifying sets of post applicant populations warranting increased scrutiny.” Applicants within one of these identified population groups will be considered for higher-level security screening. Because the March 17 cable does not explicitly provide for coordination between the embassies, each embassy will presumably identify different populations.

State & Local

Crime Reporting Declines Among Los Angeles Latinos Amid Deportation Fears

According to recent crime statistics from the Los Angeles Police Department, Latinos in Los Angeles are less likely to report sexual assaults and instances of domestic violence than in 2016. During the first two months of 2017, Latinos in the city reported 41 fewer sexual assaults 118 less domestic violence cases compared to the same time period a year ago. The data does not show similar declines among other ethnic groups. According to local law enforcement officials, the decline in crime reporting is correlated with the Trump administration’s increased emphasis on immigration enforcement, leading some immigrants to fear they could become a subject of deportation if they communicated with police or appeared in court.

Louisiana Law Violates Refugee’s Right to Marry

On March 22 a federal judge ruled against a Louisiana state law passed in 2016 that required individuals to submit birth certificates before the state would issue them marriage licenses. The plaintiff in the litigation, Viet Anh Vo, was ready to marry his U.S.- born fiancé, when their application for a marriage license got denied by court clerks due to Vo not being able to provide a birth certificate. Vo, who was born in an Indonesian refugee camp after his parents fled Vietnam as refugees, claims to have gained U.S. citizenship as a child when his parents became citizens. While Vo has official U.S. government documents reflecting his birth, refugee status and legal residency, he does not have a birth certificate and could not obtain a marriage certificate.

Republican State Rep. Valerie Hodges, who sponsored the 2015 law, says that her intent with the original bill was meant to deter foreigners from gaining visas and citizenship through “sham marriages.” In an emailed news release, Rep. Hodges stated that she plans to amend the legislation to provide a process that would let foreign-born people who are legally in the U.S. get a waiver from a judge if they are not able to produce a birth certificate. The court has yet to release a written opinion, issuing a preliminary injunction against the law from the bench, so it is still unclear whether the ruling on Wednesday was only applicable to Vo’s case or if it also extends to others affected.

Mississippi State Legislature Bans Sanctuary Cities

On Tuesday, March 21, Mississippi’s Senate approved a bill prohibiting cities and universities from adopting policies that prohibit government employees from “communicating or cooperating with federal agencies or officials to verify or report the immigration status of any person” or grants  undocumented immigrants “the right to lawful presence or status within the state.” The bill, which earlier passed the state House, now heads to Gov. Phil Bryant (R – Mississippi), who has stated he will sign it.

The effect of the bill is unclear. Currently no government in Mississippi claims to be a sanctuary city, although in 2010, the  Jackson adopted an ordinance prohibiting police from questioning detainees about their immigration status. Critics worry that the bill will encourage local law enforcement to carry out additional immigration enforcement activities, which could make communities less safe as immigrants fear cooperation with law enforcement. Critics also have raised questions about the uncertainty of the bill’s impacts on undocumented students and DACA recipients.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Congressional Research Service: Sanctuary Jurisdictions and Select Federal Grant Funding Issues: In Brief, March 16, 2017 (by Natalie Keegan)

This report examines a number of questions about implementation of President Trump’s Executive Order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” by federal grant-making agencies. Specifically, it looks at the executive order’s impact on federal grant funding for localities designated as “sanctuary jurisdictions.”

Government Accountability Office: Immigration Status Verification for Benefits: Actions Needed to Improve Effectiveness and Oversight, March 23, 2017 (by Rebecca Gambler)

This report analyzes the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system, which has been used to verify individuals’ immigration status in determining their eligibility for healthcare benefits and other social services. Specifically, the report studies the extent to which USCIS has determined the accuracy of SAVE information, introduced measures to protect privacy and provide the ability to correct inaccurate information, and monitored user agency compliance with SAVE program policies.

 

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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.