Legislative Bulletin – Friday, November 18, 2016
Policy and Advocacy Associate
November 18, 2016
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
Promise of Citizenship Act of 2016
This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow a refundable tax credit for up to $500 of the costs associated with naturalization as a U.S. citizen. Naturalization costs include naturalization application costs, English as a Second Language and other course costs, and legal services. The credit applies to costs paid or incurred by the taxpayer during the year or the three preceding years with respect to the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse, or any dependent of the taxpayer if the taxpayer, spouse, or dependent is naturalized as a U.S. citizen during the year.
Sponsored by Representative Mark A. Veasey (D – Texas) (0 cosponsors)
11/16/2016 Introduced in the House by Representative Veasey
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate will not be in session the week of Monday, November 21, 2016.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
Date: Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 10 a.m. (Senate Homeland Security)
Location: SD342, Dirksen Senate Office Building
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
Congress Moves to Pass CR Until March 2017
House Republicans announced on November 17 that they will pursue a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government funded at current levels until March 31, 2017. The decision, which was announced during a conference meeting with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, was made to give incoming President-elect Donald Trump more leverage on budget and appropriations issues for fiscal year (FY) 2017. Senator Majority Whip John Cornyn (R – Texas) said that the Senate will defer to Speaker Ryan on the government funding timeline.
Trump to Nominate Senator Jeff Sessions, Immigration Foe, as Attorney General
President-elect Donald Trump announced on November 18 that Senator Jeff Sessions (R – Alabama) would be his choice to lead the Department of Justice (DOJ) as Attorney General. If confirmed by the Senate, Sessions will oversee the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the Board of Immigration Appeals and immigration matters that may come up in other parts of the department, such as prosecutions for federal immigration crimes like illegal re-entry and the department’s Civil Rights Division.
In 1986, the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee rejected Sessions for a federal judgeship over questions about racially-charged comments he made while serving as a federal prosecutor.
Sessions is a staunch opponent of immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country without authorization. He has also fought against legal immigration, including guest worker programs and visa programs for high-skilled immigrants and foreign entrepreneurs. Sessions must be confirmed by the Senate after President-elect Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017.
Congressional Republicans Maintain Leadership Teams; Democrats See Change
On November 15, Speaker Paul Ryan was re-nominated unanimously by House Republicans to continue on as House Speaker, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – Kentucky) maintained the top leadership position in the Senate. For Democrats, Senator Chuck Schumer (D – New York) was chosen to replace retiring Senator Harry Reid (D – Nevada) as Minority Leader. Senator Dick Durbin (D – Illinois) stayed on as the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat. After his selection, Schumer voiced an openness to work with President-elect Trump on areas of agreement, such as infrastructure investment, but promised to fight his administration when necessary. In the new Congress, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – California) will be the top Democrat in the Judiciary Committee after Senator Patrick Leahy (D – Vermont), the current ranking member, moved to lead Democrats in the Appropriations Committee. Meanwhile, House Democrats delayed leadership elections for two weeks in response to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D – California) leadership in the minority. Representative Tim Ryan (D – Ohio) announced on November 17 that he would challenge Pelosi for the Minority Leader position in the House.
House Democrats Ask Obama to Pardon DACA Recipients
In a joint letter, Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-California), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-California) and Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois) called on President Obama to issue pardons to immigrants who received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The letter is part of Democrats’ effort to protect the 740,000 undocumented individuals, as many of them fear they could soon face deportation once President-elect Trump takes office in January. A White House official later dismissed the idea, stating that it is not in president’s power to grant legal status through pardon. The DACA program has been shielding certain young undocumented immigrants from deportation and granting them temporary work permits. The program was created by executive order, which can be revoked by the incoming administration.
Trump Administration Considers Registry for Muslim Immigrants
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is widely known for his hard stances on immigration, suggested that the incoming Trump administration is considering a registry for immigrants coming from Muslim countries. According to him, the registry would be designed after the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, which started after 9/11 and was suspended in 2011. During his campaign, Trump proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, but later modified his proposal, calling for “extreme vetting” for immigrants from certain regions of the world.
FBI Report: Number of Hate Crimes Increased in 2015
The FBI released a new report indicating that there were 5,818 hate crime incidents targeting 7,121 victims in 2015, an increase of 6 percent from 2014. The estimates are based on data compiled from nearly 15,000 law enforcement agencies.
Motivation for most of the crimes was victims’ race or ethnicity, with African Americans representing the most targeted community. The report also showed that Jews and Muslims have each seen increases in the number of religiously-motivated hate crimes.
Mexico Plans To Increase Protection, Support For Mexicans in U.S.
On Wednesday, November 16, 2016, Mexico’s government revealed its 11-point plan to provide more protection and support for its citizens living in the U.S., urging them to “stay calm.” The strategy, which is seen as a response to President-elect Trump’s vows to increase deportations, is intended to assist Mexicans with obtaining accurate information about possible changes in U.S. immigration policy and help them avoid becoming victims of “abuse and fraud.” According to the plan, the Mexico’s Foreign Ministry will expand services offered by the country’s embassy and consulates and its consular hotline. It also pledged to increase assistance with securing identification documents and its outreach efforts in neighborhoods with large Mexican populations.
State & Local
Cities Vow to Remain Welcoming to Immigrants
Mayors from cities such as Philadelphia, New York City and Chicago have publicly stated their intention to protect immigrants by continuing to limit cooperation between local law and federal immigration officials. This comes in response to President-elect Trump’s proposal to restrict federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities.
Other mayors from cities that engage in varying degrees with federal immigration officials have also pledged to remain welcoming to immigrants. “I’m not prepared to make a judgment about us being a sanctuary city, but we are going to be a welcoming city and we’re going to continue all of our outreach efforts to foreign-born individuals,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
Students Call for Sanctuary for Undocumented Students on University and College Campuses
Students at more than 50 universities and colleges across the country have engaged in walk-outs and submitted petitions asking their administrators to designate their schools as “sanctuary campuses” in an effort to protect undocumented students from potentially harmful immigration enforcement measures under the Trump administration. University of California President Janet Napolitano, former director of the Department of Homeland Security, recently met with undocumented students to address their concerns about the recent election and the potential revocation of President Obama’s executive actions protecting undocumented students from deportation.
U.S. Government Accountability Office: Variation Exists in Outcomes of Applications Across Immigration Courts and Judges, November 2016 (by Rebecca Gambler)
This report analyzed 595,795 asylum outcomes by the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) between 1995 and 2014. The report found significant variation between immigration courts and judges, finding that legal representation and other factors have a large impact on asylum grant rates. The report recommends that EOIR improve its performance measures of the Legal Orientation Program (LOP) and the Legal Orientation Program for Custodians of Unaccompanied Alien Children (LOPC) to better assess their impact on immigration court proceedings.
Congressional Research Service: DHS Appropriations FY2017: Security, Enforcement, and Investigations, October 27, 2016 (by Carla N. Argueta, Bart Elias, John Frittelli, Alison Siskin)
This report discusses appropriations for components of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which are included in the second title of the Homeland Security appropriations bill. Specifically, these include Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Secret Service. The report summarizes the Administration’s FY2017 request for these components, as well as appropriations that were in response proposed by the Senate and House.
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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 email@example.com. Thank you.