Legislative Bulletin – Friday, September 29, 2017
Policy and Advocacy Associate
September 29, 2017
BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education and Defending our Nation (SUCCEED) Act
This bill would allow young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, often referred to as Dreamers, to earn permanent legal status if they pursue higher education, enlist in the military or are gainfully employed, and meet other requirements. A summary of the bill is posted here.
Sponsored by Senator Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) (2 cosponsors)
09/25/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Tillis
09/25/2017 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2017
This bill would modify the criteria for determining whether countries are meeting the minimum standards for eliminating human trafficking.
Sponsored by Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) (3 cosponsors)
09/26/2017 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Corker
Legal Workforce Act
The bill would require U.S. employers to verify the work eligibility of all future employees through the E-verify system.
Sponsored by Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) (31 cosponsors)
09/08/2017 Introduced in the House by Representative Smith
09/08/2017 Referred to the Committees on the Judiciary, Ways and Means, and Education and the Workforce
09/27/2017 Referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security in the Committee on the Judiciary
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, October 2, 2017.
The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, October 2, 2017 to Thursday, October 5, 2017.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
Date: Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. (Senate Judiciary Committee)
Location: 216 Hart Senate Office Building
Michael Dougherty, Assistant Secretary for Border, Immigration and Trade, Office of Strategy, Policy and Plans, Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
James McCament, Acting Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Chad Readler, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, U.S. Department of Justice
Includes consideration of several immigration-related bills
Date: Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee)
Location: 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Date: Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. (House Homeland Security Committee)
Location: 210 House Visitors Center
Date: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. (Senate Judiciary Committee)
Location: 216 Hart Senate Office Building
Jefferson B. Sessions, Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
White House Plans to Cap the Number of Refugee Admissions at 45,000 in FY 2018
The Trump administration announced on September 29 that it will limit the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. to no more than 45,000 in fiscal year (FY) 2018. The limit would be the lowest number of refugee admissions since 1980 and a sharp drop from the 110,000 admissions set by the Obama administration for FY 2017. President Trump formally designated the number before October 1, as required by the Refugee Act of 1980.
Reports of the Trump administration’s decision to limit the number of admissions to 45,000 and its process were met with concern in Congress. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-California) released a letter condemning the State Department for insufficiently consulting with Congress, as required by law, before deciding the number of refugees that will be admitted to the U.S. The senators said that a meeting on the issue was not scheduled until details of the White House’s refugee plan had leaked out to the news media. Proponents of refugee resettlement also raised concerns about capping the number of refugees at 45,000, arguing that refugee resettlement is a core American value.
President Trump previously reduced the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. to 50,000 in FY 2017. Historically, the president has never set the number below 67,000. In recent years, the figure has generally hovered between 70,000 and 80,000 admissions.
Trump Administration Announces Travel Restrictions for Eight Countries
On September 24, the Trump administration announced new travel restrictions that will ban certain individuals from eight countries from entering the U.S. The travel restrictions, which are set to replace President Trump’s temporary travel ban that expired on September 24, will vary by country and are indefinite. They will take effect immediately for most of the countries that were part of the president’s original travel ban: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. The countries of Chad, North Korea and Venezuela are newly added to the list and restrictions on travelers from those countries will not take effect until October 18. Travelers from the five countries in the previous ban that were exempted because of a bona fide relationship with a U.S. person or entity will be subject to the new ban starting on October 18. Sudan, one of the countries included in President Trump’s original travel ban, will no longer face travel restrictions for its citizens to come to the U.S. The restrictions on Venezuela will only apply to certain government officials and their immediate family members.The new restrictions will not apply to existing visa holders, legal permanent residents, or people who work with the U.S. government. The White House stated that the travel restrictions are conditional and that as countries improve their information-sharing practices, the restrictions could be lifted. The new policy also leaves open the possibility of new countries being added to the list in the future.
In response to the new travel restrictions, the Supreme Court cancelled oral arguments on the president’s travel ban that were scheduled for October 10. Instead, the Supreme Court has given both sides the opportunity to file new briefs addressing the new travel restrictions.
Republican Senators Introduce New Dreamer Bill As Debate on Dreamers Continues
On September 25, Senators Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced the Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education and Defending our Nation (SUCCEED) Act. The SUCCEED Act would create a process that would allow young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, often referred to as Dreamers, to earn legal status if they pursue higher education, enlist in the military, are gainfully employed, or complete a combination of the three tracks, and meet other requirements. The bill received mixed reviews, with some immigration advocates expressing support for the SUCCEED Act for offering a constructive solution to protect Dreamers to criticism from other immigration advocates for offering a more restrictive process for Dreamers to earn permanent, legal status and citizenship.
The SUCCEED Act was introduced on the same day that Democratic House members introduced a discharge petition, or a motion to force a floor vote, on the Dream Act. Twenty-four House Republicans must join all 194 House Democrats for the discharge petition to succeed, but so far Representative Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) is the lone House Republican to have signed the petition. Meanwhile, Representatives Ryan Costello (R-Pennsylvania) and Erik Paulsen (R-Minnesota) cosponsored the RAC Act this week, bringing the total number of Republican voting cosponsors to 33.
The debate around the future of Dreamers continues as a new poll from the Washington Post and ABC released on September 25 finds that 86 of Americans support allowing DACA recipients to stay in the U.S. At the same time, a September 28 poll from Fox News found that 83 percent of Americans support legalizing undocumented immigrants working in the U.S., an increase from 74 percent in October 2016 and 64 percent in July 2015.
DHS Will Not Extend October 5 DACA Renewal Deadline
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will not extend an October 5 deadline for certain Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients to renew their status, according to Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys at a federal court hearing on September 26. Although DHS is no longer accepting initial applications for DACA, current DACA recipients with permits that expire on or before March 5, 2018 are still able to submit applications for renewal as long as they are received by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on or before October 5. Immigration advocates and Members of Congress have called on the Trump administration to extend the deadline for the DACA renewal application, arguing that hurricanes that affected Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico in September have significantly affected people living in those regions. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, overseeing the court case on President Trump’s decision to end DACA, expressed disappointment in the government’s decision, saying many people would be impacted by the program’s end, including family, friends and colleagues of DACA recipients. Garaufis had previously suggested that DHS extend the deadline while a legislative or executive solution was still being worked out.
Report Shows Judges Sent to the Border Face Low Caseloads
U.S. immigration judges temporarily assigned to detention facilities on or near the U.S.-Mexico border as part of President Trump’s executive order on border security reportedly have found low caseloads in their short-term assignments. The temporary assignments have increased backlogs in other parts of the country, with as many as 20,000 hearing being delayed in the transferred judges’ regular jurisdictions. President Trump’s January 2017 executive order on border security directed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to deploy 25 U.S. immigration judges to the southern border in an effort to speed up deportations of adults apprehended at the border and ease the backlog at U.S. immigration courts. However, internal DOJ memos and interviews conducted by Politico reportedly show that the executive order’s directive, which went into effect in April, has had the opposite outcome. Immigrations judges have had to cancel their cases at home, while facing low caseloads at their assigned courts on or near the border. The DOJ memos also revealed a number of logistical issues with the border courts, such as lack of internet connectivity and phone lines. The U.S. immigration court backlog now tops 600,000 cases.
Immigration advocates raised concerns about the reports, noting that delayed cases could have significant consequences, including delayed employment authorization, delayed protection and delays in family reunification. In addition, the immigration court backlog of unaccompanied children’s cases reportedly reached an all-time high of about 88,000 at the end of August, including 16,700 cases that were initiated in fiscal year (FY) 2014.
Federal Contractors Begin Construction on Border Barrier Prototypes
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced on September 26 that six federal contractors have begun to construct prototypes of a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border in the San Diego, California area. The prototypes will include four designs of concrete physical barriers and another four designs of alternate materials. The prototypes are expected to influence the final design of a physical barrier that President Trump has promised to construct along the southern border. CBP awarded $20 million in contracts in late August to six companies to build prototypes that will be 30 feet long and 18 to 30 feet tall. CBP will then test the prototypes over several weeks to determine how quickly and easily they can be breached, among other tests.
Meanwhile, the House Committee on Homeland Security is expected to markup the Border Security for America Act of 2017 on October 4. The bill would provide $10 billion over four years to expand border security in the U.S. through the construction of physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, among other provisions.
DHS Publishes Rule to Collect Social Media Information on Non-citizens, Immigrants
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a new rule in the Federal Register on September 18 that will require the department to include social-media user names, aliases, associated identifiable information and search results in an expanded list of records kept on non-citizens and immigrants in the U.S., including permanent residents and naturalized citizens, as part of the country’s national security efforts. DHS said that the rule was published in the Federal Register to comply with administrative requirements, not to launch a new policy initiative. The department said it has and will continue to monitor publicly-available social media. However, privacy and First Amendment proponents expressed concerns that the new policy could violate free speech and infringe on the privacy rights of permanent residents and new Americans in the U.S.
ICE Targets Undocumented Immigrants in So-Called Sanctuary Jurisdictions
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested nearly 500 undocumented immigrants this past week in so-called sanctuary cities and states that choose to limit their involvement in federal immigration enforcement. The four-day operation, called “Operation Safe City,” occurred in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Denver and the Washington, D.C. area, among other localities. ICE Acting Director Tom Homan stated on September 28 that ICE will dedicate more resources to conduct “at-large arrests” in communities that do not decide to increase their participation in federal immigration enforcement, including honoring federal immigration detainers. However, localities and state officials argue that honoring warrantless immigration detainers is a practice that has been found to be legally questionable.
Appellate Court Allows Key Provisions of Texas’ S.B. 4 to Move Forward
The U.S Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision on September 25 that largely allows key provisions of Texas’ Senate Bill (S.B.) 4 to go into effect after they were blocked by a lower court ruling last month. The three-judge appellate panel ruled that one of the bill’s major provisions that requires jail officials to honor immigration detainers issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers can take effect. Localities that decide to limit their involvement in federal immigration enforcement generally argue that immigration detainers are warrantless and legally questionable. However, the appellate court decided to remove the injunction halting that provision, noting that it interpreted the bill to require local jails to “comply with, honor and fulfill” detainers, but that the bill does not necessarily require detention on every detainer issued.
The appellate court also ruled that local law enforcement and college police officers cannot be prevented from assisting federal immigration officers. In addition, the court ruled that a section of the bill that prevents local governments from “adopting, enforcing or endorsing” policies that specifically prohibit or limit local enforcement of immigration laws can mostly go into effect, maintaining the part of the injunction applying to the word “endorse,” which it agreed was vague and overbroad. Local officials have argued that these provisions would interfere with their jurisdictions’ ability to maintain or create policies that promote trust between local law enforcement and the communities they serve.
The next hearing on the S.B. 4 is scheduled for November 6.
Skills and Workforce Development
Trump Administration Announces New Initiative to Prepare Students for Tech Careers
President Trump announced on September 25 that $200 million in grants would be made available annually by the Department of Education to prioritize technology and science education for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The initiative could help prepare America’s future workforce, including the nearly 25 percent of students that are either first or second generation immigrants, for jobs in science and technology as well as in a number of other sectors where computer skills are essential. Many of the country’s largest tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, pledged on September 26 to contribute an additional $300 million for computer science education to prepare students for careers in technology.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG), Individuals with Multiple Identities in Historical Fingerprint Enrollment Records Who Have Received Immigration Benefits, September 25, 2017
This report is a response to a congressional request regarding the improper provision of immigration benefits to individuals with multiple identities in the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT). OIG analyzed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data to determine how many immigrants whose fingerprints were uploaded to IDENT were identified as having multiple identities, and how many of those individuals received immigration benefits, such as permanent residence and work authorization.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.