Legislative Bulletin — Friday, April 1, 2022

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
GOVERNMENT REPORTS
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

S. 3936

Asset Seizure for Ukraine Reconstruction Act

The bill would allow the President of the United States to confiscate any property or accounts subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and valued over $5,000,000 of any foreign person whose wealth, according to credible information, is derived in part through corruption linked to or political support for the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The confiscated money would be used to support Ukrainian refugees and refugee resettlement in neighboring countries and in the United States. This is a companion bill of H.R. 6930.

Sponsored by Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) (1 cosponsor— 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

03/28/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Bennet

03/28/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 7212

Safe Sponsor Act of 2022

The bill would require unaccompanied immigrant children to be placed only with U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. The bill would also require a bond of at least $1,500, to be paid by the proposed custodian, in assurance that the unaccompanied alien child will attend, as necessary, each legal proceeding with respect to their immigration status.

Sponsored by Representative Fred Keller (R-Pennsylvania) (4 cosponsors— 4 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

03/24/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Keller

03/24/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 7239

Essential Workers for Economic Advancement Act

The bill would create a new “H-2C” nonimmigrant visa category for non-agricultural, low-skilled workers. The bill would create an initial ceiling of 65,000 visas for primarily construction, hospitality, and hospital workers.

Sponsored by Representative Lloyd Smucker (R-Pennsylvania) (0 cosponsors)

03/28/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Smucker

03/28/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Ways and Means, Oversight and Reform, and the Judiciary

H.R. 7257

Humanitarian Standards for Individuals in Customs and Border Protection Custody Act

The bill would develop guidelines and protocols for the provision of health screenings and appropriate medical care for individuals in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The bill would also require CBP to guarantee access to water, food, hygiene, and sanitary equipment to all immigrant detainees.

Sponsored by Representative Raul Ruiz (D-California) (0 cosponsors)

03/28/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Ruiz

03/28/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Homeland Security and the Judiciary

H.R. 7260

Comprehensive Southern Border Strategy Act

The bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to submit to Congress a comprehensive southern border strategy.

Sponsored by Representative Kim Young (R-California) (1 cosponsor— 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

03/29/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Young

03/29/2022 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security

H.R. 7287

To amend the Anti-Border Corruption Act of 2010 to authorize certain polygraph waiver authority

Sponsored by Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) (8 cosponsors— 7 Republicans, 1 Democrat)

03/30/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Crenshaw

03/30/2022 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, April 4, 2022.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, April 4, through Thursday, April 7, 2022.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Hearing: Examining Title 42 and the Need to Restore Asylum at the Border

Date: Wednesday, April 6, 2022, at 2:00 pm E.T. (House Committee on Homeland Security)

Location: 310 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Witnesses:

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, Senior Policy Counsel, American Immigration Council

Kennji Kizuka, Associate Director, Research and Analysis, Refugee Protection, Human Rights First

Adam Richards, Associate Professor, George Washington University School of Medicine and Physicians for Human Rights Board Member

Sheriff Mark Dannels, Cochise County, Arizona

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Biden Administration Plans to Stop Title 42 Border Expulsions in May

On April 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it would no longer authorize the use of Title 42 at the border on May 23. Title 42 is a pandemic-era order that both the Trump and Biden administrations have used since March 2020 to rapidly expel arriving migrants without providing them the opportunity to seek asylum. Since its implementation two years ago, immigration officials have expelled more than 1.7 million people using the rule.

Advocacy groups and international organizations have widely criticized the policy. They argue that deportations under Title 42 are inconsistent with international norms and fail to uphold the fundamental human rights of migrants. Moreover, a recent Human Rights First report revealed that at least 9,886 migrants expelled at the U.S.-Mexico border under Title 42 had been victims of kidnapping, torture, rape, and other violent attacks. Title 42 has also been subject to multiple legal challenges, resulting in a March 4 decision in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled the administration cannot expel migrant families under Title 42 without first allowing them to seek protection under U.S. law.

The potential wind-down appears to coincide with the timeline for a new asylum rule the Biden administration announced last week and reports that the Biden administration will start vaccinating undocumented migrants without proof of vaccination who are apprehended by border officials but not expelled under Title 42. Also, on March 30, the Department of Homeland Security released a fact sheet on its preparations for potential increases in migration, including the construction of new border processing facilities.

On March 29, in response to the rumors about the possible end of Title 42, twenty-two Republican lawmakers from Texas sent a letter urging the Biden administration to keep using Title 42 until “the number of apprehensions along the southwest border drops to a manageable level.”

President Biden’s FY 2023 Budget Proposal Highlights Immigration-Related Funding

On March 28, President Biden released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2023 to fund the federal government from October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023. The proposal includes billions of dollars for immigration-related agencies, including $15.3 billion for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), $8 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), $765 million for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and $1.4 billion for the Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which is in charge of America’s immigration courts.

The budget proposal includes $309 million for new border security technology and $527 million to fund ICE’s alternatives to detention (ATD) programming. The proposal also cuts funding for the number of ICE immigration detention beds — limiting them to 25,000.

In the section of the budget proposal justifying some of the funding amounts, the administration revealed new information about the effectiveness of current border security policies. The budget revealed that CBP effectively interdicted an estimated 82.6% of attempted irregular entrants and that on 96.9% of occasions it quickly reached sites where technology had detected unlawful entrants.

Biden Administration Will Discontinue Use or Reduce Capacity of Four ICE Detention Centers

On March 25, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would discontinue use or reduce capacity in four immigrant detention centers. In the announcement, ICE outlined its plans to discontinue the use of the Etowah County Detention Center in Alabama due to its “long history of serious deficiencies identified during facility inspections”, limit the use of the Glades County Detention Center in Florida due to “persistent and ongoing concerns related to the provision of medical care at the facility”, reduce the number of beds at the Winn Correctional Center in Louisiana due to recent staffing constraints, and transition the Alamance County Detention Facility in North Carolina from long-term detention to an under 72-hour custody facility.

In the announcement, ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson highlighted that the agency “will continue to review other immigration detention centers and monitor the quality of treatment of detained individuals, the conditions of detention, and other factors relevant to the continued operation of each facility.”

The announcement came only nine days after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) recommended the immediate relocation of all U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees located at the Torrance County Detention Facility in Estancia, New Mexico, citing staffing shortages that have led to “excessive and avoidable unsanitary conditions.”

Biden Administration Will Make Available an Additional 35,000 H-2B Visas for the Second Half of FY 2022

On March 31, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) announced the forthcoming publication of a joint temporary final rule to make available an additional 35,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for the second half of fiscal year (FY) 2022. These visas will be set aside for U.S. employers seeking to employ additional workers on or after April 1, 2022, through September 30, 2022. Of the 35,000 visas, 23,500 will be available to returning H-2B workers, and 11,500 will be reserved for nationals of Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire noncitizens to perform nonagricultural temporary labor or services in the United States. Employers seeking H-2B workers must certify there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work for which they seek a prospective foreign worker. In addition, they must certify that employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

In the announcement of the policy, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas stated that “additional H-2B visas will help to support American businesses and expand legal pathways for workers seeking to come to the United States.” Secretary Mayorkas also said that DHS would apply greater scrutiny to those employers who have a record of violating obligations to their workers and the H-2B program.

Biden Administration Announces New Actions to Reduce USCIS Backlogs

On March 29, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) — the federal agency that processes green cards, visas, and employment authorization documents for immigrants — announced three measures aimed at reducing the agency’s pending caseload. The measures consist of expanding the categories of applicants who can pay extra fees to have their immigration petitions adjudicated more quickly, proposing a new rule that would provide relief to immigrants waiting for work permit renewals, and setting new processing time goals.

The announcement came amid pressure to reduce USCIS’s backlog. According to recent reports, pending employment authorization applications have increased from 676,000 in March 2020 to 1.5 million as of December 2021, and citizenship application-processing times increased from an average of nine months in 2019 to approximately a full year. Additionally, there are 313,852 pending Temporary Protected Status applications, 432,341 pending applications for asylum, and 789,426 pending green card applications.

Legal

Court Settlement Requires ICE to Consider Detainees’ Financial Capacity to Pay Bond

On March 29, a U.S. District Court approved a settlement agreement that requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Southern California immigration judges to consider the detainees’ financial circumstances and ability to pay a bond before setting unreasonable bond amounts.

The agreement stems from the case Hernandez v. Garland, a class-action lawsuit filed in 2016 by the American Civil Liberties Union against ICE and California judges for failing to consider the financial resources of detainees before setting a bond. Prior to the settlement, the federal government was not required to consider the ability to pay when setting bonds for those facing deportation. As a result, “many immigrants remained incarcerated for months or even years simply because they could not afford the bond,” the ACLU said in a statement.

One of the defendants was an immigrant from Honduras arrested by ICE in 2012 and detained in the Santa Ana Jail while his application for asylum was being decided. Bail was set at $3,000, but he had no means to pay that bond so he remained in detention for four years.

Local

Maryland Legislature Expands Access to Medicaid for Undocumented Pregnant People

On March 31, Maryland’s legislature voted 33-14 — a veto-proof majority — to advance bill HB 1080, or the Healthy Babies Equity Act, which expands Medicaid to pregnant people regardless of immigration status. The bill, which has yet to be signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan, would require the Maryland Medical Assistance Program to provide comprehensive medical care and other health care services to noncitizen pregnant women until their children turn one year old.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

There were no immigration-related government reports the week of Monday, March 28, 2022.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Analysis: Immigration Provisions in the America COMPETES Act

This analysis highlights the immigration-related provisions currently being considered in negotiations around the America COMPETES Act bill. The resource provides some background and context, summarizes the provisions, and describes how they would bolster U.S. competitiveness.

Why Businesses Should Support Immigration Reform

This paper argues that reforming the U.S. immigration system is an economic imperative. Businesses benefit from needed immigration reforms to provide permanent solutions for Dreamers, the agricultural workforce, and other essential workers. These reforms can help address ongoing labor shortages, fill job openings in key sectors dependent on immigrant labor, strengthen the U.S. economy, and address long-term demographic shortfalls.

Biometrics at the Border

This paper explores the U.S. system for tracking entries, exits, and visa overstays, and discusses why — although it has been federally mandated for 26 years — we have been unable to fully implement a comprehensive entry/exit tracking system. The paper also describes some of the pros and cons of biometric data collection and issues a series of recommendations for the entry/exit system moving forward.

* * *

*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Arturo Castellanos-Canales, National Immigration Forum Policy and Advocacy Associate, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Arturo can be reached at acastellanos@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.

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