Legislative Bulletin – Friday, September 22, 2017

Policy and Advocacy Associate

September 22, 2017

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

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

S. 1848

Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2017

This bill would amend and reauthorize international provisions of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPRA), and will modify the criteria for determining whether countries are meeting the minimum standards for eliminating human trafficking.

Sponsored by Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) (0 cosponsors)

09/19/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Corker

09/19/2017 Referred to and passed the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, September 25, 2017.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, September 25, 2017 to Thursday, September 28, 2017.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Threats to the Homeland

Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee)

Location: 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Witnesses:

Elaine C. Duke, Acting Secretary, Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Christopher A. Wray, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Department of Justice

Nicholas J. Rasmussen, Director, National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice

Date: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. (Senate Judiciary Committee)

Location: 216 Hart Senate Office Building

Witness:

Jefferson B. Sessions, Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice

Postponed: The Long-Term Impact of Immigration: Exploring Reforms to our Nation’s Guest Worker Programs and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and their Potential Impact on the American Economy and Local Committees

Date: TBD (Senate Judiciary Committee)

Location: 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Witnesses:

Panel I

Michael Dougherty, Assistant Secretary for Border, Immigration and Trade, Office of Strategy, Policy and Plans, Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

John R. Martin, Senior Policy Advisor, Employment and Training Administration, Department of Labor

Panel II

Paul Almeida, President, Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO

Daniel Costa, Director of Immigration Law and Policy Research, Economic Policy Institute

Dr. Ron Hira, Associate Professor, Howard University

Jessica Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies, Center for Immigration Studies

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Trump Administration Expected to Announce New Travel Restrictions

With President Trump’s travel ban set to expire on September 24, the Trump administration confirmed on September 22 that new travel restrictions will likely be issued. The travel restrictions are expected to vary by country and be based on cooperation with U.S. mandates, the potential threat posed by each country, and other factors. According to those familiar with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) recommendations, the new restrictions will not have an end date. It is unclear which countries would be affected by these new restrictions.  According to the Wall Street Journal, DHS originally had 17 countries listed as non-compliant with DHS policies but many of those countries made changes to bring them closer to compliance and avoid being covered by the new ban.

The new travel restrictions are scheduled to be announced on the evening of September 22 and could take effect as soon as September 24, when the existing travel ban reaches its expiration date.

These new travel restrictions could have an impact on the Supreme Court’s review of the existing travel ban on October 10, including making some of the issues moot before oral arguments take place.

White House Expected to Announces Priorities on Immigration, Possibly Dreamers

The White House is expected to announce its “specific priorities and principles” on immigration within the next week, which could include its plan to address the future of Dreamers after President Trump’s decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on September 15 that President Trump is focused on ongoing conversations between Democrats and Republicans to deliver on “responsible immigration reform,” but noted that no final deal has been reached. Sanders also said that President Trump supports making “an agreement on DACA,” but it would have to include “massive border security and interior enforcements.” She suggested that the White House may not support a path to citizenship for Dreamers, but did not definitively rule citizenship out. Sanders’ comments follow confusion last week, which started after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) announced they had reached an agreement with President Trump over a basic outline to pursue legislation that would protect Dreamers from deportation and enact border security measures. The announcement, which generated strong pushback from immigration critics and was later denied by President Trump.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan stated on September 15 that a bipartisan majority in Congress supports protections for Dreamers. Ryan said that any legislation to protect Dreamers will have to include measures to strengthen border security, which he called “the root cause” of the problem. On September 18, about 40 individuals who identified themselves as “undocumented youth” interrupted a news conference held by Pelosi in San Francisco. The individuals objected to the inclusion of any language related to border security in a Dreamer deal and sought a commitment to protect “all 11 million” undocumented immigrants in the U.S. The interruption drew negative reactions from at least some Dreamers, who expressed concern that it would hurt their cause.

As the discussion on Dreamers continues, a new poll shows that about 70 percent of Republicans do not support deporting undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for at least two years and about 70 percent of Americans would support citizenship for Dreamers.

Trump Administration Terminates TPS for Sudan, Extends Protection for South Sudan

On September 18, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it is terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Sudan. DHS provided the 450 affected Sudanese immigrants with a 12-month sunset period to allow them to prepare to leave the U.S. At the same time, the administration extended TPS to the approximately 75 to 200 eligible immigrants from South Sudan through May 2019. The decisions were both overdue, as the countries’ designations were set to expire on November 2 and federal law requires that the DHS Secretary make a decision on TPS designations no later than 60 days before an expiration deadline. However, DHS said it made the decision before September 3, but did not announce it publicly. Sudan was first designated for TPS in 1997 and re-designated in 1999, 2004, and 2013.

TPS is granted by the DHS Secretary to eligible foreign-born individuals who are unable to return to their home country safely due to conditions or circumstances preventing their country from adequately handling their return. The conditions may include an ongoing armed conflict such as civil war, an environmental disaster, an epidemic, and other extraordinary and generally temporary circumstances.

The U.S. currently provides TPS to over 300,000 individuals, most of them from El Salvador (about 195,000) and Honduras (about 57,000). Advocates for TPS have expressed concern that if the administration begins to unwind TPS programs for Sudan, it could be a sign of further adverse decisions to come in the next six months on TPS for El Salvador and Honduras.

White House Rejects Study Substantiating Positive Impact of Refugees

The White House reportedly rejected an internal study by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that showed refugees contributed $63 billion more in revenues than they cost the government over the last ten years. The report’s findings reportedly contradicted claims of some White House officials, including senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, who support reducing the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. each year. Miller has asserted that continuing to welcome refugees is too costly and raises national security concerns. However, the HHS study, which was completed in July but never publicly released, found that refugees contributed an estimated $269 billion in revenues to all levels of government through federal, state and local taxes. White House officials reportedly said those conclusions were illegitimate and politically motivated, and were not included in the final report issued by the agency.

The White House must decide before October 1 how many refugees will be admitted to the U.S. in fiscal year (FY) 2018. The Trump administration is reportedly considering lowering the number of refugees permitted to enter the U.S. to less than 50,000 in FY 2018, the lowest number since at least 1980.

Trump Administration Weighing Policy to Fast-Track Deportation of Unaccompanied Minors

The Trump administration is reportedly considering a new policy that would fast-track the deportation of thousands of young Central American immigrants who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border as unaccompanied minors, most of them fleeing violence from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The policy would reportedly call for the expedited removal of unaccompanied minors from Central America once they turn 18 years of age. Under expedited removal, these young immigrants would not be afforded a regular immigration court hearing before an immigration judge. However, some Department of Justice officials are reportedly concerned that current federal law does not give the Trump administration the power to place these individuals in expedited removal. According to news reports, the policy is being drafted via memos circulated between the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Since 2014, DHS has referred more than 150,000 unaccompanied minors to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which cares for unaccompanied children from noncontiguous countries after they are apprehended at the border. Most of the children are then transferred to relatives in the U.S. Between 63 and 73 percent of Central American unaccompanied children who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border were between 15 and 17 years of age, which indicates that most of them would be subject to such a policy change since they are turning 18 years old.

Legal

Federal Judge Consolidates DACA Lawsuits, Aims to Quickly Resolve Case

U.S. District Judge William Alsup on September 21 combined four lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and indicated that he hopes to quickly decide the case. The lawsuits, which include those filed by the state of California on September 11 and six individual Dreamers on September 18, all argue that the Trump administration did not follow proper administrative procedures in rescinding DACA and that the rescission is a violation of the Fifth Amendment due process clause because it may lead to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) using the personal and contact information DACA recipients gave to the government for their participation in the program to deport them, despite the government’s promise at the time that it would not use the information for that purpose. Alsup said that legal briefs for many of the issues could be finished by December and indicated that the case should be decided before March 6, when DACA recipients’ protection from deportation and work authorization will start to expire without the opportunity to renew them.

California Sues Trump Administration to Block Border Wall Construction

On September 20, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit to block the Trump administration from constructing his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The lawsuit alleges that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) overstepped its authority by waiving environmental reviews and laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, to speed construction of a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border in two California counties. The lawsuit contends that DHS’ power to waive such laws, which was granted by Congress in 2005, expired in 2008 when it met a congressional requirement for constructing fencing on about one-third of the border. The lawsuit also argues that DHS violated the Tenth Amendment, which protects state’s rights, and the separation of powers doctrine by speeding up construction of the physical barriers. The lawsuit aims to stop the Trump administration from building physical barriers along the southwest border until it demonstrates compliance with environmental laws and to prevent DHS from waiving any federal guidelines to move the project along. Becerra said that a victory in the lawsuit would apply to the entire 2,000-mile border.

Although Congress has yet to fully fund construction of a physical barrier along the southwest border, which could cost about $21.6 billion, the Trump administration announced in August it had chosen four companies to build concrete prototypes of sections of the wall.

State & Local

California Legislature Passes California Values Act

On September 16, the California Values Act passed along party lines after negotiations between Democrats in the legislature and Governor Jerry Brown (D-California). The bill, which limits immigration enforcement by state and local law enforcement, is seen as the most sweeping of all state bills protecting so-called sanctuary jurisdictions.

After amendments, the bill includes exceptions permitting police and sheriffs to share information and transfer suspects to federal authorities if they have been convicted of one of 800 specified crimes. The bill also includes language clarifying that it does not prohibit any official from sharing citizenship or immigration status of any individual, as required under 8 U.S.C. 1373. The bill includes language stating that it is intended “to ensure effective policing, to protect the safety, well-being, and constitutional rights of the people of California, and to direct the state’s limited resources to matters of greatest concern to state and local governments.”

Governor Brown is expected to sign the bill in the coming days.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Congressional Research Service: Unauthorized Childhood Arrivals: Legislative Options, September 14, 2017 (by Andorra Bruno)

This CRS brief provides a short overview of bills introduced in the 115th Congress to provide legal status for eligible unauthorized childhood arrivals, often referred to as 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.