Legislative Bulletin – Friday, May 19, 2017
Policy and Advocacy Associate
May 19, 2017
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
Securing the Border and Protecting Our Communities Act
This bill would prohibit certain Federal funds from being available to sanctuary jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with the Federal Government on immigration matters or retaliate against border security contractors.
Sponsored by Senator Luther Strange (R – Alabama) (1 cosponsor)
5/15/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Strange
5/15/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works
Pell Grant Preservation & Expansion Act
This bill would improve college affordability for a range of low-income populations, including DACA recipients, by permanently indexing Pell Grants to inflation, and thus increasing its purchasing power. It would also make Pell Grant funding mandatory.
Sponsored by Senator Susan Davis (D – California) (7 cosponsor)
5/16/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Davis
5/16/2017 Referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Budget Committee
Boots on the Border Act of 2017
This bill would allow the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to waive the polygraph examination requirement to certain federal, state, or local law enforcement officers and members of the Armed Forces, the National Guard or U.S. veterans.
Sponsored by Senator Jeff Flake (R – Arizona) (3 cosponsor)
3/9/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Flake
5/17/2017 Marked up by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and passed 12-3 with an order to be reported with an amendment in the nature of a substitute
The Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act ( The Davis-Oliver Act)
This bill would dramatically reshape interior immigration enforcement in the United States, by by requiring state and local law enforcement to divert their limited resources towards immigration enforcement, by permitting states and localities to pass their own immigration laws that would likely result in a confusing patchwork of state and local immigration laws, and by criminalizing unlawful presence of undocumented people in the United States among other provisions.
Sponsored by Representative Raul Labrador (R – Idaho) (6 cosponsors)
5/16/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Labrador
5/16/2017 Referred to the Committees on the Judiciary, Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security
5/17/2017 Debated at the House Judiciary Committee. The markup is scheduled to continue on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
This bill would facilitate the expedited review of immigration applications seeking admission to the United States under section 101(a)(15)(J) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Specifically, the legislation would focus on immigrants who are coming to the U.S. to participate in a program under which they will receive graduate medical education or training, and would require the Secretary of State to provide relevant Foreign Service officers with training regarding such immigrants.
Sponsored by Representative Grace Meng (D – New York) (1 cosponsor)
5/16/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Meng
5/16/2017 Referred to the Committees on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs
Child Citizen Protection Act
This bill would provide discretionary authority to an immigration judge to determine that an alien parent of an U.S. citizen child should not be ordered removed, deported, or excluded from the United States.
Sponsored by Representative Jose Serrano (D – New York) (15 cosponsors)
5/17/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Serrano
5/17/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act
This bill would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins Act), which is the main source of federal funding for secondary and postsecondary career and technical education (CTE) programs that are critical for building skills of our workers, including immigrants.
Sponsored by Representative Glenn Thompson (R – Philadelphia) (20 cosponsors)
5/4/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Thompson
5/4/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce
5/17/2017 Marked up by the House Committee on Education and ordered to be reported to the House by a voice vote
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, May, 22, 2017.
The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, May 22, 2017, through Thursday, May 26, 2017.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
The House Judiciary Committee will markup bills H.R. 2431 “The Davis-Oliver Act”, H.R. 2407 “The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Authorization Act” and H.R. 2406 or “The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Authorization Act.”
Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 10 a.m. (House Judiciary)
Location: 2141 Rayburn House Office Building
Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 2:30 p.m. (Senate Judiciary)
Location: 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Date: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at 10 a.m. (Senate Homeland Security)
Location: 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building
This hearing will include consideration of Lee Francis Cissna’s nomination to serve as Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at Department Of Homeland Security.
Date: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at 10 a.m. (Senate Judiciary)
Location: 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Vishal J. Amin, To Be Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, Executive Office of The President
Stephen Elliott Boyd, To Be an Assistant Attorney General For Legislative Affairs
Lee Francis Cissna, To Be Director of USCIS, Department Of Homeland Security
Date: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at 3 p.m. (House Appropriations)
Location: 2358-A Rayburn House Office Building
The Honorable John F. Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security
Date: Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. (Senate Appropriations)
Location: 138 Dirksen Senate Office Building
The Honorable John F. Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
House Judiciary Committee Debates Davis-Oliver/SAFE Act
On Thursday, May 18, the House Judiciary Committee debated H.R. 2431 “The Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act”, also known as the Davis-Oliver Act which similar to the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act introduced in 2013. The Committee did not complete the bill’s markup and recessed for the remainder of the week. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to continue to markup the bill on May 23.
The Davis-Oliver/SAFE Act would reshape interior immigration enforcement in the United States by forcing state and local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws, thereby redirecting their limited resources away from existing public safety threats to immigration enforcement, by permitting states and localities to pass their own immigration laws that would likely result in a confusing patchwork of state and local immigration laws, and by criminalizing unlawful presence of undocumented people in the United States among other provisions.
Amendments offered by Democrats on the Committee seeking to strike the section requiring state and local law enforcement to carry out immigration enforcement and the provision criminalizing undocumented status failed on party-line votes.
ICE Arrests Climb 38%
Only a fraction of immigrants arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during the first three months of this year were convicted of violent crimes. The agency released new data showing that out of the almost 31,000 convicted criminals arrested by ICE during the first 100 days since President Trump signed his Executive Orders increasing immigration enforcement, only 2,700 were convicted of violent crimes such as homicide, rape, kidnapping and assault. Overall, the ICE agents arrested 41,000 individuals known or suspected of being in the country without proper immigration documents during the first three months of this year, which is an increase by 38 percent compared to the same time period a year ago. Further, recent statistics show that the number of non-criminal arrests madeby ICE from late January through April 2017 surged to 10,800, which is a more than 150-percent increase when compared to the same period in 2016. At the same time, police chiefs from several big cities, including Los Angeles and Houston, say Latinos have been more reluctant when it comes to reporting crimes than last year due to their fear of deportation. Some experts see this pattern as evidence of immigrants’ increasing mistrust of law enforcement officers under the Trump Administration’s newimmigration policies.
Immigration Court Backlog Swells
The ongoing backlog at U.S. immigration courts has increased, reaching a new record high of cases waiting for a decision. A recently-published report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) showed there were 585,930 pending cases at the end of April, nearly 70,000 more than by the end of fiscal year (FY) 2016. At the same time, the average waiting time for a hearing reached 670 days. One quarter of the backlog consists of cases waiting at nine U.S. immigration courts. For example, the San Francisco court reported 42,000 backlogged cases, and the wait time for certain individuals climbed to five additional years.
Sheriff Clarke Reported to be Assistant Secretary at DHS
On Wednesday, May 17, the Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke announced his acceptance of a position as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Partnership and Engagement at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He shared the news in a radio interview, specifying that he will serve as a liaison to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies. Clarke, a strong supporter of Donald Trump, is also known for his tough comments about unauthorized immigration, and regularly posting stories about crimes allegedly involving undocumented immigrants on social media. Clarke is reportedly leaving his current position as sheriff in June. However, DHS did not confirm Clarke’s reported role.
Number of Foreign-born Workers Reaches New High
Immigrants account for a steadily increasing part of the American workforce. According to an annual report published by Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were nearly 27 million foreign-born workers in the U.S., about 700,000 more in the previous year, accounting for 16.9 percent of the nation’s total labor force in 2016. That is the highest number since 1996, when the BLS started to track the size of foreign-born worker population. The agency includes legally-admitted immigrants, refugees, temporary residents such as students and temporary workers, and undocumented immigrants into its calculations.The immigrant portion of our labor force has been rising steadily over the past six years after a slight drop during the latest economic recession. Some experts believe that the trend is proof of immigrant integration into the U.S. workforce.
Senate Homeland Security Committee Approves CBP Polygraph Waiver Bill
On Wednesday, May 17, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved S. 595 “Boots on the Border Act of 2017,” allowing certain Customs and Border Protection (CBP) job applicants to avoid a lie detector test. The Committee passed the bill sponsored by Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) in a 9-2 vote. Specifically, the measure would permit a polygraph waiver for certain federal, state, or local law enforcement officers and members of the Armed Forces, the National Guard or U.S. veterans. S. 595 would support the Trump Administration’s effort to hire more CBP agents. Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) are co-sponsors of the bill. Some have expressed concern about lowering hiring standards for CBP.
DHS to Decide About Haiti Temporary Protected Status
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has a deadline of early next week to decide whether to renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians seeking refuge in the U.S., which otherwise would expire in July. TPS was first authorized following Haiti’s 2010 earthquake. Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and a sustained cholera outbreak since then have set the country back.
A number of U.S. legislators express their support of extension of the Haitian TPS. Republican Governor from Florida Rick Scott requested an extension in a May 11 meeting with DHS Secretary John Kelly. Other Republican leaders who have requested an extension include Representative Mia Love (R – Utah) and Senator Marco Rubio (R – Florida) and Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida) and Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida). Trump voters and evangelical Christians and business leaders are also among those calling for extending protections for Haitians.
Seattle Judge Halts DOJ Order Restricting Legal Help for Immigrants
On Wednesday, May 17, the U.S. District Judge in Seattle, Richard Jones, has temporarily enjoined the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) order preventing a local immigrant-rights group from providing less than full representation of a client in an immigration matter such as providing assistance only on certain aspects of a case, providing assistance filling out forms, or providing limited advice. In a letter received in April, the DOJ instructed the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) to “cease and desist” providing certain legal assistance to immigrants. According to the Judge, the order would irreparably harm the organization and violate its constitutional rights, including free speech. The ruling also applies to other similar groups across the country. The temporary restraining order will be in effect until the court considers NWIRP’s request for a permanent injunction.
State & Local
Family Detention Center Bill Likely to Fail in Texas House
The Texas House of Representative failed to hold a hearing on H.B. 2225 before midnight on Thursday, May 18, making it unlikely to pass before the end of the state legislative session on May 29, 2017. The measure would allow Texas to license family immigrant detention centers as “family residential centers”. While sponsor of the bill State Representative John Raney says H.B. 2225 intends to end a lengthy legal dispute and allow the Department of Family Protective Services to inspect the facilities, opponents believe it is an attempt to hold asylum seekers for longer periods of time. Critics say that longer stays in such facilities could adversely impact the physical and mental health of children held in detention.
H.B. 2225 was introduced in the Texas House after related legislation S.B. 1018 passed the state Senate on May 9, 2017. The vote on S.B. 1018 followed a state court ruling that found family detention facilities did not meet the state’s minimum requirements for child care facilities.
There were no relevant government reports published during the week of Monday, May 15, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.