Legislative Bulletin – Thursday, August 6, 2015
Assistant Director for Immigration Policy and Advocacy
August 6, 2015
Bills Introduced and Considered
This bill amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to increase penalties applicable to aliens who unlawfully reenter after being removed.
Sponsored by Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Arizona) (45 cosponsors)
7/9/2015 Introduced in House
7/9/2015 Referred to House Judiciary
Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act
This bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to deny certain federal assistance to sanctuary cities.
Sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California) (44 cosponsors)
7/9/2015 Introduced in House by Rep. Hunter
7/9/2015 Referred to House Judiciary
7/22/2015 Rules Committee Meeting on H.R. 3009, including submission of amendments
7/23/2015 Passed House (Roll Call Vote No. 466: 241-179).
Stop Sanctuary Cities Act
This bill would withhold certain federal funding from sanctuary cities.
Sponsored by Sen. David Vitter (R-Louisiana) (3 cosponsors)
7/21/2015 Introduced in Senate by Sen. Vitter
Improving Cooperation with States and Local Governments and Preventing the Catch and Release of Criminal Aliens Act of 2015
This bill would withhold federal funding from sanctuary jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate on criminal aliens and other high priority individuals. It would also increase the amount of time an undocumented immigrant must spend in jail for re-entry after deportation from 2 years to 5 years.
Sponsored by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) (5 cosponsors)
7/21/2015 Introduced in Senate by Sen. Grassley
7/21/2015 Referred to Senate Judiciary
Nominations and Confirmations
There were no significant developments on nominations or confirmations this week.
Legislative Floor Calendar
The U.S. House of Representatives will be in recess the entire month of August.
The U.S. Senate will be in recess for the remainder of August.
Upcoming Hearings and Markups
S. 1814, Stop Sanctuary Cities Act [POSTPONED TO NEW DATE]
Date: Thursday, September 10, 2015, 10:00 a.m. (Senate Judiciary Committee)
Themes in Washington This Week
GOP Debate Field Set
Fox News announced the field for the first official Republican primary debate to be held on the evening of August 6. The debate, sponsored by Fox News and Facebook and aired on Fox, will feature the top 10 candidates (determined by an average of five national polls) and will be preceded by a candidate forum for the remaining seven candidates. With immigration as an ever-growing focus of the presidential race, all eyes will be on the candidates to see where they fall on the issue.
Earlier in the week, several members of the GOP field appeared at a Republican candidate forum in New Hampshire on August 3, described by some as an “uneven,” “sleepy affair.” The forum moderator raised immigration policy multiple times, with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) disavowing his previous support for comprehensive immigration reform and former Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) speaking at length about his support for additional border security.
In recent weeks, several Republican candidates have taken “tough on immigration” positions that put them at odds with the GOP electorate, at least according to recent polls. Rubio’s statement that the immigration system “cannot be fixed in one massive comprehensive piece of legislation,” represented a clear step back from his previous co-sponsorship of the 2013 bill that passed the Senate. Prior to the August 3 candidate forum, business mogul Donald Trump (R-New York) called for an unworkable mass deportation plan that would require that all undocumented immigrants be deported, but would subsequently allow “the good ones” to return to the United States. Gov. Chris Christie (R-New Jersey), who previously supported comprehensive immigration reform, distanced himself from his previous stand, calling a pathway to citizenship “garbage.”
Feds Prepare Family Detention Response
After receiving an extension, the federal government is preparing its response to the July 24 ruling by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee that family detention violates a 1997 settlement agreement establishing the treatment and care of immigrant children. The settlement requires that immigrant children be placed in “the least restrictive setting appropriate” and promotes a presumption of release for immigrant children.
While the federal government has until August 6 to respond to the ruling and may seek an appeal, attorneys representing immigrant families report that large numbers of women and children are being released on bond or are placed on electronic monitoring devices at detention facilities in both Texas and Pennsylvania. Following the ruling, advocates, congressional Democrats and other prominent voices have called on the federal government to end family detention.
UPDATE: The Obama administration filed its response late on August 6, asking Judge Gee to reconsider her decision. The response, which has already received significant criticism from immigration advocates and congressional Democrats, argued that family detention is necessary to deter undocumented immigrants from coming to the United States.
Controversy over Human Trafficking Report
Critics expressed concern over allegations of politicization after the State Department released the 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report (see below). The report, which ranks 188 countries on their governments’ efforts to combat human trafficking, plays an important role in U.S. diplomatic relations, publicly “shaming” countries which fail to actively combat human trafficking.
According to Reuters, senior State Department officials pressured analysts to rank “strategically important countries” like Malaysia and Cuba higher than what was determined under an independent TIP assessment. Countries ranked in the lowest Tier 3 category are restricted in the amount of aid they receive from the United States, the IMF and the World Bank.
A Senate hearing on the TIP Report was also held on August 6.
U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report, July 2015
The State Department recently released its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which tracks anti-trafficking efforts of 188 countries worldwide. This report ranks countries based on governmental efforts to comply with U.S. standards set forth in the Trafficking Victims Protections Act (TVPA). Tier 1 countries, such as Germany and France, are those that are found to sufficiently meet the standards of the TVPA; Tier 2 countries are found to be making meaningful efforts to combat human trafficking; Tier 2 “Watch List” countries are those that require special monitoring; and Tier 3 countries, such as North Korea and Iran, are those that fail to meet minimum U.S. standards. The report provides an overview of each country’s policies against human trafficking and makes recommendations for ways to address country-specific trafficking concerns.
Note: This month, the Bulletin will be publishing on a bi-weekly basis: Thursday, August 6 and Thursday, August 20. We will post additional occasional updates, when necessary, including a post-debate update on this page on Monday, August 10.
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*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Larry Benenson, National Immigration Forum Policy and Advocacy Associate, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Larry can be reached at email@example.com. Thank you.