Legislative Bulletin – Friday, October 13, 2017
Policy and Advocacy Associate
October 13, 2017
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
American Samoa Investment Act of 2017
This bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to include United States nationals among the eligible employees of an EB–5 commercial enterprise.
Sponsored by Representative Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-American Samoa) (2 cosponsors)
10/06/2017 Introduced in House
10/06/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, October 16, 2017.
The U.S. House of Representatives will be out of session until October 23, 2017.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
Date: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 10:00 AM (Senate Judiciary)
Location: Hart Senate Office Building 216
Jefferson B. Sessions III, Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
White House Releases Its Immigration Principles
On Sunday, October 8, the Trump administration released a list of its immigration priorities. In his letter to Congress, the President indicated that his immigration priorities “must be included as part of any legislation addressing” Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
The top item on the list of White House Immigration Policy Priorities is construction of a border wall, Trump’s signature campaign promise. Other priorities include cutting off federal grants for “sanctuary cities,” limiting family-based green cards to spouses and children who are minors, tougher penalties for asylum fraud, and faster deportations for unaccompanied minors who arrive at the border. Additionally, Trump would hire 370 new judges to oversee immigrations cases, an increase of 1,000 attorneys at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as well as 10,000 more ICE agents to expedite and increase deportation efforts. The principles also include the creation of a points-based merit system for obtaining green cards, similar to the proposed RAISE Act.
Although Democratic leaders Pelosi and Schumer spoke out against the principles, reports indicate Trump’s priorities have not changed the dynamics on the Hill. Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security is reportedly looking into ways it could alter the U.S. Immigration system without Congress. Certain modifications they are exploring resemble policies detailed in the White House immigration principles, including limiting protections for unaccompanied minors who come to the U.S. without proper immigration documents, expediting deportation proceedings, and tightening visa programs to limit legal immigration.
Trump to Nominate DHS Secretary; Senate Confirms Cissna as USCIS Director
President Donald Trump plans to nominate his Chief of Staff John Kelly’s former top aide Kirstjen Nielsen to serve as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary. Nielsen, who is a cybersecurity expert and an attorney with homeland security background, served as Kelly’s chief of staff during the time he ran the DHS and became his deputy chief of staff after his White House appointment in July.
The announcement followed the U.S. Senate last week’s confirmation of a new director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency (USCIS). In a 54-43 vote, the lawmakers approved nomination of Lee Francis Cissna, to become head of the agency. All Republican senators voted in favor of the nomination supported and were joined by Democrats Donnelly (D-Indiana), Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), Manchin (D-West Virginia) and McCaskill (D – Missouri). Cissna is a Maryland lawyer that had previously served as the Director of Immigration Policy at DHS and an aide to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
Poll: Most Americans Keep Supporting Dreamers
Majority of Americans believe that young undocumented immigrants that were brought to the U.S. as children should be allowed to stay in the country legally. According to a recent poll, about 60 percent of Americans favor allowing the “Dreamers” to stay in the U.S. legally, compared to 22 percent who are opposed. About 19 percent, or 1 in 5 Americans, support deportations of Dreamers. Lawmakers in both House and Senate have recently introduced several Dreamers-related bills in an attempt to provide a solution to the issue after President Trump’s September decision to rescind the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program provides employment authorization and defers the potential for deportation. Trump cancelled the program as of September 5, 2017, but allowed recipients to renew their DACA status until March 5, 2018. If the Congress fails to find a solution for Dreamers by the March deadline, the loss of DACA workers is likely to result in a $433 billion reduction of the U.S. GDP over the next 10 years.
SCOTUS Dismisses Travel Ban Case
The Supreme Court dismissed one of the major challenges to President Trump’s original travel ban, prohibiting travel from majority-Muslim countries, due to the administration’s new proclamation that replaced the then-expiring version. The ruling was a setback for the “travel ban case” with the court favoring the White House request asking the court to drop the case. According to the court, implementation of the new travel ban made the issue moot. The dismissal also set aside decision issued by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down major portions of the original travel ban.
There is one more appeal pending, brought by the state of Hawaii, which pertains to the refugee limits and will remain pending until the end of the month.
Washington State Challenges New Travel Ban
Washington Attorney General (AG) Ferguson requested a federal judge to lift stay on the state’s current case against President Trump’s travel ban, which would allow him to file a claim against the new travel ban that the administration introduced at the end of last month. Additionally, AG Ferguson filed for a temporary restraining order (TRO), asking the court to halt implementation of the latest version of the ban, and modified his original complaint that has been pending since introduction of the initial travel ban. Oregon, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and California also joined the case.
Separately, a federal judge stated on Friday, October 6, that he would provide Hawaii with opportunity to make its case and allow it to challenge the latest version of the travel ban.
Colorado Supreme Court Strikes Down Smuggling Ban
The Colorado Supreme Court struck down a 2006 state law, prohibiting immigrant smuggling. The court struck down the law in a 4-3 decision, concluding that there is a similar federal law which should take precedent and blocking the state from implementing its own immigration laws. The 2006 state law considered it a felony to provide transportation in exchange for money for individuals living in the U.S. without proper immigration documents.
Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman stated she plans to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
State & Local
ICE Director Demands Immigration Raids in Response to California’s SB54
As a direct result of California’s decision to pass SB54, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Thomas Homan stated his agents will have to conduct workplace and neighborhood immigration raids, which will lead to increased collateral arrests.
The new state law limits state and local police’s ability to collaborate with federal agents on immigration investigations and arrests. While the policy prohibits local authorities from keeping a prisoner or detainee longer than the constitutionally mandated period at the behest of ICE, it still permits ICE agents to interview and arrest detainees in local facilities if they have a judicial warrant.
Supporters of the law say a detainer constitutes a violation of a detainee’s constitutional rights and that the law was necessary to protect against excessive enforcement actions. Those who have opposed the bill say detainers are needed so that arrests of dangerous immigrants can be made in jails and prisons.
Congressional Research Service: Trends in the Timing and Size of DHS Appropriations: in Brief, October 5, 2017 (by William L. Painter)
This report examines the different trends in the timing and size of DHS appropriations since 2003, as they make their way through the legislative process.
Congressional Research Service: DHS Component Funding, FY2017: Fact Sheet, October 6, 2017 (by William L. Painter)
This report compares the amount of DHS funding provided to each of the eight components of the department. It looks at the changes in component funding between the 2016 and 2017 Fiscal Years.
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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.