Legislative Bulletin – Friday, October 20, 2017

Policy and Advocacy Associate

October 20, 2017

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

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

S. 1979

This bill seeks to block implementation of certain presidential actions that restrict individuals from certain countries from entering the United States.

Sponsored by Senator Christopher Murphy (D-Connecticut) (30 cosponsors)

10/18/2017     Introduced in Senate by Senator Murphy

10/18/2017     Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The.  U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, October 23, 2017.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, October 23, 2017 through Thursday, October 26, 2017.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Public-Private Solutions to Educating a Cyber Workforce

This hearing will seek to determine best practices from academia and private enterprises on how to streamline the entry of cybersecurity students, including immigrants, into the workforce and narrow the gap of qualified cybersecurity professionals.

Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at 2:00pm (House Homeland Security)

Location: House Capitol Visitor Center, Room 210

Witnesses: TBD

Oversight of the United States Refugee Admissions Program

Date: Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 9:00am (House Judiciary)

Location: 2141 Rayburn House Office Building

Witnesses: TBD

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Thousands of DACA Holders Were Not Able To Renew Their Applications Before the Deadline

About 22,000 young undocumented immigrants shielded from deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program failed to apply for renewal of their status by the October 5 deadline. That is roughly one in seven DACA holders out of the 154,000 eligible individuals, the Department of Homeland Security data showed.

President Trump announced termination of the program, which served nearly 800,000 young people that were brought to the U.S. as children, at the beginning of September. However, the administration allowed those whose authorizations were set to expire within six months to apply for renewals by October 5, 2017. The DACA program will officially end on March 5, 2018 and immigration advocates hope that the Congress will find a legislative solution for the so-called Dreamers before the end of this year.

House Dems Want Border Wall Bill to Move through Six Committees

After swift passage of Chairman Michael McCaul’s (R-Texas) border security bill last week, ranking Democrats on six House committees submitted a request to Speaker Paul Ryan asking for the opportunity to mark up the legislation before it moves to the House floor. The bill, which allocates $10 billion toward building a wall, passed out of committee on a party line, 17-12 vote.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans reportedly drafted a Homeland Security spending bill, which includes the full $1.6 billion President Trump demanded for building a wall along the Mexican border.  Given that current government funding will run out on December 8th, the possibility of a shutdown is looming. Senator John Boozman (R-Arkansas), author of the bill, however, assured that funding for the border wall would be taken care of in the spending bill this December. Boozman said other issues that may be part of the December 8 discussions include continuing working permits for Dreamers.

Department of Defense Makes Major Changes to Policies Allowing Lawful Permanent Residents to Serve in the Military

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced a change to policies on October 13 regarding Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), or green card holders, who wish to enlist in the military. Under the new policies, LPRs enlisting in the military are no longer allowed to start basic training once their background checks are initiated. LPRs must now complete a background investigation and receive a favorable military security suitability determination (MSSD), which could take up to a year or more, before being able to attend basic training. In addition, the new policies extend the waiting period for LPRs in the military to become U.S. citizens. Before October 13, LPRs could apply for naturalization after serving one day in active duty service. Now, they must serve 180 consecutive days of active duty service, or at least one year of satisfactory service in the selected reserve. The extended waiting period will also affect those participating in the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program, which allows immigrants who are not permanent residents to enlist in the military if they have critical language or medical skills needed in the military.

As a result of the new DoD policy, the U.S. Army issued a directive to immediately stop enlisting LPRs seeking to join the Army Reserve and National Guard. The move could potentially violate federal law and international treaties, since LPRs are permitted by U.S. law to enlist in the military and the U.S. has treaties with the independent island nations of Micronesia, The Marshall Islands and Palau that allow them to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces. LPRs can still enlist in the active-duty military Army, but must follow the new policies.

The DoD argued that the policy changes are necessary because some individuals received citizenship before background investigations were completed. However, immigration advocates and veterans said that the U.S. has a long tradition of allowing immigrant to serve in the military and the new policies could end up hurting military force readiness.

US Green Card Lottery Applications Lost

The U.S. State Department announced that all applications sent to the U.S. Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, or the Green Card Lottery, during October 3-10, 2017, were lost as a result of a technological malfunction. While duplicate entries typically disqualify applicants, the Department instructed those who applied during this time period to resubmit their applications.  Although the entry period has been extended for an additional month, immigration experts are concerned that those who live in third world countries may not receive the news in time to reapply. The Department is working to spread the word through social media and local media outlets.

For foreigners without family or an employer in the U.S. and those who don’t qualify as refugees, the diversity visa lottery is their only option.  In order to qualify, the applicants must hold a high school degree or possess a few years of work experience.  Even if they qualify and their lottery numbers are selected, applicants still have to pass additional requirements and screenings, and gather enough money to pay for their way to the U.S. Overall, the Green Card Lottery accounts for a very small percentage of immigration to the U.S.

Legal

Federal Judges Block Trump’s Travel Ban 3.0

Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland have temporarily halted the nationwide implementation of the Trump administration’s travel ban. The decisions came consecutively with the District Court of Hawaii granting a temporary restraining order on October 17 and the District Court of Maryland granting a preliminary injunction on October 18. Judge Derrick Watson of the District Court of Hawaii, the same judge that blocked Trump’s second travel ban, granted the temporary restraining order against the latest version. According to Judge Watson, the Trump administration’s effort appeared to still run afoul of federal immigration law. He stated that the Trump administration failed to provide sufficient justification to invoke a provision in federal law that allows a president to block the admission of any class of alien that would be detrimental to the United States. The judge further noted in his opinion, that there are several countries that do not meet the global baseline criteria described in the ban but are not subject to any travel restrictions and there is no explanation as to why there are exceptions for some types of visitors and not others.

In the Maryland case, filed by the International Refugee Assistance Project, Judge Theodore D. Chuang stated that after reading President Trump’s tweets, he is convinced that the latest policy was a “re-animation” of the previously enjoined bans and was likely to be found unconstitutional. Similar to Judge Watson, Judge Chuang noted that the government did not establish additional evidence to establish a national security concern to justify the travel ban. The Maryland injunction allows for some of the restrictions to take effect but only for people who do not have a credible bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.

The Department of Justice is expected to appeal both rulings, which would send this latest version of the ban to the Supreme Court.

Judge Orders Trump to Reveal Documents Leading to DACA Repeal

The Trump administration has until October 27, 2017 to release the legal advice and other materials leading to the decision to roll back the DACA program. U.S. District Judge William Alsup, based in San Francisco, ordered the Trump administration to provide all emails, letters, memos, and other related material based on which the administration made its decision. According to the judge, administration waived its attorney-client privilege by claiming that the verdict was made due to concerns about constitutionality of the program. He further stated that the plaintiffs were entitled to challenge whether this was a reasonable legal position and in order to make this challenge, they are entitled to review the internal analyses that drove to the decision. Judge Alsup’s order requires that the federal government release the materials used by acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Elaine Duke in her decision to rescind the program, as well as information provided to previous DHS Secretary and White House current Chief of Staff John Kelly, who decided to leave the program intact in February.

In a Department of Justice oversight hearing on Wednesday, October 18, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated the President Trump would work to protect unauthorized childhood immigrants so long as it includes efforts to reduce illegal immigration overall. During the hearing, AG Sessions refused to answer questions regarding some of the communication involved in making the decision to terminate DACA, stating that the type of legal discussion that took place is protected as Attorney General Office work product and cannot be revealed.

Federal Judge Refuses to Cancel Arpaio’s Guilty Verdict Despite Trump’s Pardon

On Thursday, October 19, Phoenix-based U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton ruled that although President Trump’s pardon ends former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s prosecution for criminal contempt of court, it does not erase the guilty verdict or any other rulings. According to the Judge’s order, the pardon freed the former Arizona Sherriff from any punishment that might otherwise have been imposed, but it did not change the “historical facts” of the case.

Bolton found former sheriff Joe Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt at the end of July for intentionally disobeying a judge’s order to stop detaining people based solely on suspicion of an individual’s immigration status. President Trump pardoned the controversial former Sheriff on August 25, provoking a wave of criticism from immigration and civil rights advocates, as well as Senators John McCain (R – Arizona), Jeff Flake (R –Arizona) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R – Wisconsin).

Federal Court Refuses to Lift Halt of Trump’s Anti-Sanctuary Policy

On Friday, October 13, U.S. District Court Judge Harry Leinenweber turned down a request from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to scale back injunction he issued against the Trump administration’s new requirements for Byrne-JAG Grants, a public-safety funding. In September, Judge Leinenweber issued a nationwide block requested by the City of Chicago, stopping the DOJ from insisting that local authorities give advance notice when suspected undocumented immigrants are about to be released from custody. In the Friday order, Judge Leinenweber refused to lift the nationwide aspect of the injunction, claiming the DOJ’s policy exceeded its legal authority regardless of where it was being implemented.

Leinenweber’s injunction has already been appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. On October 13, the DOJ asked the 7th Circuit to grant the same stay that the Judge denied but the court took no immediate action.

Skills & Workforce Development

DOL Announces Members of Trump’s Apprenticeship Task Force

On Monday, October 16, 2017, U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced members of the President Trump’s Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion. Registered apprenticeship is a flexible training system that prepares American workers, including immigrants, to meet employers’ requirements by combining job related technical instruction with practical on-the-job learning experiences. The main goal of the Trump’s Task Force is to address the nation’s skills gap by bringing together individuals with substantial workforce development experience. The group consists of representatives of various companies, trade and industry groups, educational institutions, and labor unions, including top business lobbyists and actor John Ratzenberger, who is a known workforce training programs advocate. The Task Force was created in response to the President’s June executive order expanding apprenticeship efforts in the U.S.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

There were no immigration or workforce related government reports published during the week of Monday, October 16, 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 zjerabek@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.