Legislative Bulletin – Friday, November 17, 2017

Policy and Advocacy Associate

November 17, 2017

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
GOVERNMENT REPORTS
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

H.R. 170

Protect and Grow American Jobs Act

The bill would raise the minimum salary for H-1B holders from $60,000 to $90,000, eliminate the exemption for H-1B workers with advanced degrees and require companies to send detailed reports to the Department of Labor about their efforts to recruit American workers, among other provisions.

Sponsored by Representative Darrell Issa (R-California) (9 cosponsors)

1/03/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Issa

1/03/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

11/15/2017 Passed the House Committee on the Judiciary by a Voice Vote

H.R. 4384

Act to Sustain the Protection of Immigrant Residents Earned Through TPS (ASPIRE TPS) Act

This bill would permit individuals who are currently eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to apply for lawful permanent resident status if they meet certain requirements.

Sponsored by Representative Yvette Clarke (D-New York) (9 cosponsors)

11/14/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Clarke

11/14/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 4398

Safe Emergency Response Act

The bill would require U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to suspend immigration enforcement operations in areas affected by a major disaster or emergency.

Sponsored by Representative Nanette Barragan (D-California) (13 cosponsors)

11/15/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Barragan

11/15/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives will not be in session on the week of Monday, November 20, 2017.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

There are no immigration-related hearings or markups scheduled for the week of Monday, November 20, 2017.

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Ryan Mulls Short-Term Continuing Resolution, As Calls Grow for a DACA-Fix By Year End

Speaker Paul Ryan said on November 14 that Republican leaders are considering a short-term continuing resolution to fund the federal government from December 8 to December 22, while stating that a legislative solution for Dreamers will not necessarily be part of an end-of-year spending bill.

Ryan said that appropriators need more time to finalize an omnibus spending bill to fund the government for the remaining nine months of fiscal year (FY) 2018, so Congress might extend the current continuing resolution until December 22. In addition, Ryan said that Republican House members are planning to find a solution for Dreamers separately from the spending bills.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have called for a legislative solution for Dreamers by the end of the year. National security experts, businesses and tech companies, law enforcement leaders and veterans have also called for Congress to pass legislation to protect Dreamers before 2017 is over.

USCIS to Consider Delayed DACA Applications

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on November 15 that it will allow individuals whose renewal applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) were rejected because of mail or USCIS delays to resubmit their applications. Elaine Duke, the Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), directed USCIS to allow certain applicants to resubmit their applications if they have evidence that they mailed their renewal in a timely manner and that the reason it missed the October 5 deadline was due to Postal Service delays. An estimated 100 applications to renew DACA were rejected because they had been delayed in the mail.

In addition, DACA renewal applications in at least two of three USCIS mailboxes were marked late and rejected because they were not picked up by a courier service until October 6, even though they had arrived on time. USCIS announced that it will proactively reach out to those DACA requestors to inform them that they may resubmit their DACA renewal applications. This announcement could affect hundreds of applications.

20-Year-Old DACA Recipient in ICE Custody

Felipe Abonza-Lopez, a 20-year-old with a prosthetic leg who is a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), has reportedly been in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for a month. Border Patrol agents apprehended Abonza-Lopez, who reportedly has a clean criminal record, and four other undocumented individuals on October 12 near Uvalde, Texas. The Border Patrol said in a statement that Abonza-Lopez and the four individuals were arrested, “during the course of a human smuggling investigation.” Two of the individuals were deported, one was charged with illegal re-entry, and Abonza-Lopez and another individual were given notices to appear in immigration court for deportation proceedings. The federal government did not charge any of the individuals with human smuggling. Abonza-Lopez alleges he is in pain because he is not receiving medical treatment for his prosthetic leg while in detention. On November 15, immigration authorities said they had revoked Abonza-Lopez’s DACA protection.

Acting Secretary Denies Pressure on TPS Decision; Bipartisan Bills Introduced in Congress

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke on November 10 denied reports that the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly pressured her to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 57,000 Hondurans in the U.S. Duke said that the reports are incorrect and the TPS decision was “mine to make.” On November 6, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decided that it would terminate TPS for Nicaragua, giving over 2,500 status holders 14 months to leave the U.S. At the same time, DHS decided to extend the TPS designation for Honduras until May 2018.

Meanwhile, Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) and Yvette Clarke (D-New York) introduced the bipartisan ASPIRE Act on November 14. The bill would permit individuals covered by TPS on January 1, 2017 to apply for a new “protected status” that would last 6 years. Under the bill, if they are able to show “extreme hardship” they would be allowed to apply for lawful permanent resident status. In addition, Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida) introduced the bipartisan ESPERER Act on October 31, which would allow certain individuals who received TPS protection prior to January 13, 2011 to apply for lawful permanent resident status. Ros-Lehtinen cautioned that passing a legislative solution for TPS status holders could be challenging.

The next TPS decision that DHS must make is Haiti’s designation, with an announced deadline on November 23.

President Trump Nominates Thomas Homan to Lead ICE

On November 14, President Trump nominated Thomas Homan, Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to lead the agency. Homan has served as ICE’s Acting Director since January and previously led ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) division during the Obama administration. Homan has supported increased immigration enforcement in the past, stating as acting director that he would dedicate more resources to conduct “at-large arrests” in communities that do not decide to increase their participation in federal immigration enforcement and that the agency will continue to arrest undocumented immigrants who have not been convicted of crimes.

Government Reports Question Hiring of Additional Border and Immigration Enforcement Personnel

Government watchdogs released two new reports in early November indicating that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agencies face “significant challenges” in hiring and training new border and immigration enforcement personnel, and that the Border Patrol is losing agents at a faster rate than it can hire new ones. In January, President Trump issued an executive order that called for hiring 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents and 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. However, the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) report released on November 3 found that neither U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “could provide complete data to support the operational need or deployment strategies for the 15,000 additional agents and officers they were directed to hire.” The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on November 8 that found the Border Patrol has 19,500 agents, or 1,870 fewer than currently mandated by Congress. In addition, the Border Patrol hired an average of 523 agents each year, but saw 904 agents leave.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Map Highlights Impact of Border Wall

A map reportedly produced by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows where the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to build 33 miles of a physical barrier in 15 different segments along the southern border in Texas. According to the Texas Observer, portions of the proposed physical barrier would pass through three wildlife areas, including bisecting the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, a 797-acre preserve that is a major birding destination. In one of the 15 segments, the physical barrier might pass through an RV park where “retiree[s] live there permanently,” the historic La Lomita Chapel and the Riverside Club in the Rio Grande Valley. The barrier might also affect more than 100 homeowners in the segment. Most land in Texas near or along the southern border is privately owned.

House Judiciary Committee Passes H-1B Bill

The House Judiciary Committee passed the Protect and Grow American Jobs Act (H.R. 170) by a voice vote on November 15. The bill, introduced by Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), would raise the minimum salary for H-1B holders from $60,000 to $90,000, eliminate the exemption for H-1B workers with advanced degrees and require companies to send detailed reports to the Department of Labor about their efforts to recruit American workers. The bill would also increase the threshold for defining H-1B dependent employers from at least 15 percent to at least 20 percent of the workforce using H-1B visas, but would authorize the Department of Labor to conduct at least five random investigations of H-1B dependent employers annually. The bill now must be scheduled for debate in the full House.

Legal

Appeals Court Allows Travel Ban to Go Partially Into Effect

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on November 13 that President Trump’s new version of the travel ban could move forward with some exemptions, allowing the government to bar the entry of people from six Muslim-majority countries with no connections to the U.S. The appeals court panel held that the government could implement the ban, except on individuals with “bona fide relationships” with a person or entity in the U.S. These relationships include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins of people in the U.S. The appeals court ruling blocks a lower court’s decision, from a judge in Hawaii, which nearly completely blocked the travel ban from implementation. The appeals court ruling is similar to a Supreme Court decision earlier this year that allowed an earlier version of the travel ban to be implemented. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it is reviewing the appeals court’s order and the government will begin enforcement the policy consistent with the ruling.

The third version of the travel ban, which was set to go into effect last month, will apply to people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Chad. The ban also blocks certain individuals from Venezuela most North Koreans from entering the U.S., though courts have not stopped the administration from placing restrictions on those two countries. President Trump has said the travel ban is important for national security, but immigration advocates note that the ban could violate the U.S. Constitution by discriminating on the basis of religion.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Congressional Research Service, Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, November 9, 2017 (by Jill H. Wilson)

This CRS insight provides an abridged overview of the Diversity Visa program, which was established in 1990 to increase U.S. immigrant diversity by admitting individuals from countries that have historically low rates of immigration to the U.S.

Congressional Research Service, Overview of “Travel Ban” Litigation and Recent Developments, November 14, 2017 (by Hillel R. Smith and Ben Harrington)

This CRS sidebar summarizes the three executive actions commonly referred to as the “Travel Ban” and the litigation related to those executive actions.

Congressional Research Service, A Primer on U.S. Immigration Policy, November 14, 2017 (by William A. Kandel)

This CRS report provides a broad overview of U.S. immigration policy, including policies related to permanent immigration, temporary admissions, visa issuance and security, border security, interior enforcement, and the unlawful population residing in the U.S.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

For Love of Country: New Americans Serving in Our Armed Forces, November 7, 2017

This report provides an overview of the contributions of immigrants to the U.S. Armed Forces, the unique challenges immigrant service members, veterans and their families face and the need to broaden the pool of eligible recruits through legislation that would make Dreamers and other undocumented immigrants eligible to enlist.

Why Congress Needs to Fix DACA Before March 5, November 9, 2017

This infographic highlights why Congress must pass a DACA-fix before March 5 by showing how long it will take to implement legislation that would protect Dreamers.

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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.