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Legislative Bulletin — Friday, April 12, 2024

Welcome to the National Immigration Forum’s weekly bulletin! Every Friday, our policy team rounds up key developments around immigration policy in Washington and across the country. The bulletin includes items on the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, as well as some coverage at the state and local levels. 

Here’s a breakdown of the bulletin’s sections:

DEVELOPMENTS IN IMMIGRATION THIS WEEK

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

DEVELOPMENTS IN IMMIGRATION THIS WEEK

Immigration policy is a dynamic field subject to constant change. Here, we summarize some of the most important recent developments in immigration policy on the federal, legal, state, and local levels. 

Content warning: This section sometimes includes events and information that can prove disturbing. 

Federal

House Delays Sending Impeachment Articles to Senate

On April 9, CNN reported that House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) had opted to delay sending the impeachment articles against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate until next week, a move meant to buy his Republican colleagues in the upper chamber more time to publicly fight for a full trial against the Biden administration’s top immigration and border enforcement official.

The articles were originally supposed to reach the Senate by Wednesday, but some Republican senators urged Johnson to postpone that timeline to provide for a better chance at a fuller discussion of them.

Even so, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has seemingly teed up a quick vote to dismiss or table the trial, as Democrats and even some Republicans show little appetite for a drawn-out debate despite growing pressure to look tough on the border in an election year. “We’re sticking with our plan,” Schumer said. “We’re going to move this as expeditiously as possible.”

From the start, the impeachment effort against Mayorkas has been widely criticized by legal experts and national security leaders, who say the constitutional punishment was not meant to be weaponized over mere policy differences. 

“The challenges at the border and the need for modernizing our immigration system are still pending action from Congress,” Jennie Murray, president and CEO of the National Immigration Forum, recently reiterated in a statement. “We urge Congress to invest energy on solutions that will further secure our border and treat migrants with dignity.” 

March Refugee Numbers Disappointing, But U.S. Refugee Program Could Still Resettle 100,000 This Fiscal Year

The U.S. resettled 7,431 refugees in March, a significant decrease of 2,820 people from the 10,251 resettled in February. The six-month total of refugee arrivals for FY 2024 is 48,673.

If the U.S. were to resettle 48,673 refugees for the second six months of FY 2024, it would welcome 97,346 people total this fiscal year. To reach the 125,000-refugee target for the year, the U.S. would need to resettle approximately 12,721 refugees for the next six months.

Overall, FY 2024 is still looking to be a good year for refugee resettlement. The March numbers demonstrate the importance of a refugee pipeline that can sustain high numbers of refugee arrivals from month to month. A one-month decrease in arrivals means subsequent months have to see a higher number of arrivals if the program wants to come close to reaching 100,000 arrivals — let alone the 125,000 refugees targeted for FY 2024.

Local

Iowa, Louisiana Advance Bills to Join Texas in Creating New State Immigration Crimes

Amid burgeoning interest in state-level legislative action on immigration across many Republican-controlled states, Louisiana and Iowa advanced bills criminalizing the entry and presence of undocumented immigrants in their respective states this week. 

Both pieces of legislation are similar to Texas’s controversial S.B. 4, with the Iowa proposal tracking it almost verbatim. This despite the fact that immigration enforcement in the U.S. has long been under federal purview. 

The Iowa bill, signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) on Wednesday, makes it a crime to enter, attempt to enter, or be present in Iowa for anyone who has been denied admission, deported, or excluded from the U.S. The offense is, in some instances, a misdemeanor but may be raised to a felony if the perpetrator has previously been deported for certain criminal offenses. 

Notably, while this bill tracks much of the Texas legislation whose enforcement is currently being stayed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, it leaves out the affirmative defenses that the Texas version provides for some noncitizens with lawful presence or deportation protections such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

For its part, the Louisiana bill would make entering or being present in Louisiana by any noncitizen without legal status such as a green card, a current work permit or visa, or a student or tourist visa a crime punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $4,000 for a first offense, and by at least six months up to two years in prison or a fine up to $10,000 or both for a second or any subsequent offense. It would provide limited exceptions for noncitizens who have been “necessary witness[es] to or victim[s] of a crime of domestic violence, rape, sexual exploitation, sexual assault, murder, manslaughter, assault, battery, human trafficking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, involuntary servitude, fraud in foreign labor contracting, blackmail, extortion, or witness tampering.”

Further, the bill would codify the Louisiana governor’s ability to enter into an “interstate compact” with Texas, to assist Texas in its attempts to use state law enforcement and resources to “protect its southern border.” 

Immigration advocates and opponents of these and other pieces of legislation believe they are clearly unconstitutional, overreaching the exclusive federal authority to enforce immigration law. They fear that, if enforced, the policies could embolden profiling and drain state resources, while doing little to actively improve border security. 

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

It can be challenging to keep up with the constant barrage of proposed legislation in Congress. So, every week, we round up new bills. This list includes federal legislative proposals that have recently been introduced and that are relevant to immigration policy. 

Please follow this link to find new relevant bills, as well as proposed legislation from past weeks.

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate is expected to be in session from Monday, April 15 through Friday, April 19, 2024. 

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to be in session from Monday, April 15 through Thursday, April 18, 2024. 

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Here, we round up congressional hearings and markups happening in the field or in Washington. 

A Review of the Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Request for the Department of Homeland Security

Date: Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. EDT (House Homeland Security)

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

Witnesses: 

The Honorable Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

How the Border Crisis Impacts Public Safety

Date: Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. EDT (House Committee on Oversight and Accountability)

Location: 2154 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Witnesses:

Hon. Ken Cuccinelli, Senior Fellow for Immigration and Homeland Security, Center for Renewing America

Bill Waybourn, Sheriff, Tarrant County, Texas 

Mike Chapman, Sheriff, Loudoun County, Virginia

Budget Hearing — Fiscal Year 2025 Request for the Department of Justice

Date: Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. EDT (House Appropriations)

Location: 2359 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 

Witnesses: 

The Honorable Merrick Garland, Attorney General, Department of Justice

Budget Hearing — Fiscal Year 2025 Request for the Federal Emergency Management Agency

Date: Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. EDT (House Appropriations)

Location: 2358-C Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Witnesses: 

The Honorable Deanne Criswell, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency

A Review of the President’s Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Request for the Department of Health and Human Services

Date: Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. EDT (Senate Appropriations)

Location: Dirksen Senate Office Building 138, Washington, D.C.

Witnesses: 

The Honorable Xavier Becerra, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services

Legacy of Harm: Eliminating the Abuse of Solitary Confinement

Date: Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. EDT (Senate Judiciary)

Location: Dirksen Senate Office Building Room G50, Washington, D.C.

Witnesses: TBA

The Reign of Brutal Gangs in the Western Hemisphere

Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at 2:00 p.m. EDT (House Foreign Affairs) 

Location: 2200 Rayburn, Washington, D.C.

Witnesses: 

Shelby Smith-Wilson, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Fiscal Year 2025 Department of Health and Human Services Budget

Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at 2:00 p.m. EDT (House Energy and Commerce)

Location: TBA

Witnesses: TBA

A Review of the President’s Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Justice

Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at 2:30 p.m. EDT (Senate Appropriations)

Location: Dirksen Senate Office Building 192, Washington, D.C.

Witnesses: 

The Honorable Merrick Garland, Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice

The FY25 DHS Budget: Resources and Authorities Requested to Protect and Secure the Homeland

Date: Thursday, April 18, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. EDT (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs)

Location: Senate Dirksen Building, SD-342, Washington, D.C.

Witnesses: TBA

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Reports by bodies such as the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Research Service, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General provide invaluable information on immigration policy and practice. Here, we give brief summaries of new immigration-related reports, with links to the resources themselves in case you want to learn more.

Congressional Research Service (CRS); FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP); Updated April 4, 2024

This report details the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP), including its use to accommodate migrants through what was called EFSP-H, a program whose responsibilities have since transitioned under Shelter and Services. 

Congressional Research Service (CRS); U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): Operations and Issues for Congress; Published April 5, 2024 

This report considers U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as a largely fee-funded, benefits-granting agency and presents potential policy issues for Congress’ attention.

Congressional Research Service (CRS); Optional Practical Training (OPT) for Foreign Students in the United States; Published April 9, 2024

This report explores the pros and cons of Optional Practical Training (OPT) for foreign professionals with F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant status, including as an alternative to more competitive, intensive processes such as H-1B and lawful permanent residence applications. 

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

The Forum is constantly publishing new policy-focused resources that engage with some of the most topical issues around immigration today. Here are a few that are particularly relevant this week: 

Explainer: Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Work Visas

This explainer provides a list and brief explanation of various visas available for U.S.-based employers to hire noncitizens in the country.

Six Actionable Recommendations to Improve Safety and Wellbeing for Asylum-Seeking Families in the Context of the Biden Administration’s Fast-Tracked Deportations

This position paper details realistic policy changes that the Biden administration could make to help ensure asylum seekers enrolled in the Family Expedited Removal Management (FERM) program have access to a process that is as fair, efficient, and humane as possible in the context of fast-tracked proceedings.

Bill Analysis: Temporary Family Visitation Act (TFVA)

The Temporary Family Visitation Act (S. 3255 and H.R. 5155) would create a new nonimmigrant visa category for visiting relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (commonly referred to as green card holders) seeking to facilitate a temporary reunion with family members residing in the United States. The bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Scott Peters (D-California) on August 4, 2023, and in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) on November 8, 2023.

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*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Alexandra Villarreal, Senior Policy and Advocacy Associate at the National Immigration Forum, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Alexandra can be reached at avillarreal@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.

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