BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
Acute Labor Shortage Solutions Act of 2022
The bill would give the Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Department of Labor, the ability to temporarily exempt EB-3 workers from the numerical cap if the industry is judged by these agencies to be facing a severe labor shortage.
Sponsored by Representative Carolyn Bourdeaux (D- Georgia) (1 cosponsor— 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)
04/07/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Bourdeaux
04/07/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
Hold CCP Accountable Act of 2022
The bill, among various other provisions, would revoke and prohibit the issuance of any type of visas to members of the Chinese Communist Party who may have been responsible for the COVID–19 outbreak.
Sponsored by Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania) (1 cosponsor— 1 Democrat, 0 Republicans)
04/07/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Fitzpatrick
04/07/2022 Referred to the House Committees Foreign Affairs, Financial Services, Oversight and Reform, Armed Services, Intelligence, Ways and Means, Rules, Education and Labor, and the Judiciary
Early Migration Alert Program (EMAP) Act
The bill would require U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to provide to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments information related to the transfer of immigrants into their jurisdictions within 24 hours after their transfer.
Sponsored by Representative Michael Guest (R-Mississippi) (14 cosponsors— 14 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
04/07/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Guest
04/07/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
Anti-Caravan Act of 2022
The bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to request from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua reimbursements of up to 70 percent of the cost of any deportation flights of immigrants who attempt to enter the U.S. in a migrant caravan. The bill would also make all immigrants who participate in a caravan ineligible for any immigration benefit for 10 years. The bill would also make it a crime — punishable with no less than ten years in prison — to organize, finance, or otherwise provide material support to migrant caravans.
Sponsored by Representative Yvette Herrell (R-New Mexico) (8 cosponsors— 8 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
04/07/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Herrell
04/07/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and the Judiciary
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
U.S. Paroles in Approximately 10,000 Ukrainians at U.S.-Mexico Border, Considers Additional Parole Program
According to an April 11 report, the U.S. paroled in 9,926 Ukrainians at the U.S.-Mexico border between February 1 and April 6. The vast majority of the individuals have applied for protections at official ports of entry, which have been largely closed for all other asylum seekers. While short-term, 60-day parole is used for certain others who are encountered or apprehended at the border and are ineligible for Title 42, Ukrainians at the border have been offered one year of protection and are not placed into alternatives to detention or required to check in with an ICE office to begin their immigration court proceedings. Ukrainians do not need tourist visas to enter Mexico due to an arrangement between the two countries.
According to an April 12 CNN report, the Biden administration is also planning on creating a special parole program for Ukrainians who have fled from the Russia invasion and have pending family-based visa claims in the U.S. The details of the program are not yet clear. Parole does not offer benefits or protections beyond temporary protection from deportation and the ability to apply for work authorization.
On March 24, President Biden announced that the U.S. would welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees through a variety of legal pathways in response to the Russian invasion. It is not clear whether the individuals paroled at the border or who enter through the planned special parole program will count towards that number.
Department of State Data: 66,781 Employment Green Cards Went Unused in 2021
On April 12, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs published its annual Report of the Visa Office, which provides statistical information on immigrant and nonimmigrant visa issuances in 2021. The numbers revealed that — despite having 1.4 million immigrants waiting for an employment-based green card — the Biden administration awarded only 195,507 of its 262,288 available employment-based green cards in 2021, leaving 66,781 employment green cards unused. Additionally, the report revealed that 141,000 family-based green cards went unused out of a total of 226,000 available, leaving around 85,ooo family green card visas unused.
The agency said Covid-19 restrictions and staffing challenges reduced the capacity of embassies and consulates to process applications in the last fiscal year. However, over the years, various administrative complications have left hundreds of thousands of green cards unissued. In addition, existing numerical limitations and per-country caps on green cards have only accentuated a backlog of over 5 million.
While the expired employment-based green cards are lost, the unused family-based numbers roll over into the employment-based category for the following fiscal year, which ends on September 30.
Biden Administration Designates Cameroon for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
On April 15, the Biden Administration designated Cameroon for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The 18-month designation will allow nationals from Cameroon with nonimmigrant status residing in the United States as of April 14 to stay and work temporarily in the country without fear of being returned into conflict and violence.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that the renewal of TPS for Cameroon was appropriate due to the country’s ongoing armed conflict between government forces, armed separatists, and a significant rise in attacks from Boko Haram. Secretary Mayorkas noted that the designation was also justified due to the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure that has led to economic instability, food insecurity, and several hundred thousand displaced Cameroonians without access to schools, hospitals, and other critical services.
On February 10, Human Rights Watch released a report documenting the harms and danger faced by those who had been deported to Cameroon after fleeing to the United States.
USCIS Announces Online Filing for DACA Renewal Forms
On April 12, U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that individuals who have previously been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) may now file their DACA renewal form online. At this time, however, the option to file online is only available for individuals who who have previously been granted DACA.
In the announcement, USCIS Director Ur Jaddou highlighted that the transition to online applications was intended to make the process “more efficient and effective for the agency, stakeholders, applicants, petitioners, and requestors.” According to the agency, during fiscal year 2021, USCIS received more than 8.8 million requests for immigration benefits, including 438,950 DACA requests.
Federal Court Allows Biden Administration to Resume Implementation of Immigration Enforcement Guidelines
On April 12, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the Biden administration to resume the implementation of immigration enforcement guidelines, issued in September 2021, that recognized the Department of Homeland Security’s discretion to prioritize certain removal cases over others. The DHS guidelines instructed immigration officers to prioritize arresting and detaining individuals facing deportation who were recent border arrivals, who pose a threat to public safety or national security.
The court stayed an nationwide injunction against the guidelines put in place by a district court in Ohio, arguing that the states of Ohio, Arizona and Montana — who filed the lawsuit against the Biden administration in November — were unlikely to show that the memorandum violated federal immigration law, and their claims of potential harm to states were speculative. These states argue that detaining fewer people who are in the U.S. without authorization would threaten public safety and impose costs on states for law enforcement and public services.
State & Local
Texas Governor Abbott Blocks Cross-Border Trade at Ports in Response to Administration Border Policies
On April 6, Governor Greg Abbott (R-Texas) ordered Texas state troopers to begin inspecting northbound commercial vehicles crossing at ports of entry along the border, a job that is the responsibility of the federal government and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The action resulted in significant delays in travel and trade at international bridges, and led to protests from truckers, traders, and business owners on both sides of the border.
Abbott began the inspections as part of his response to the Biden administration’s April 1 announcement that it would be suspending the use of Title 42 — a pandemic-era policy used to rapidly expel arriving migrants — on May 23. Abbott also announced he would begin using state troopers to apprehend migrants at the border and bus the migrants to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. While the governor’s office later clarified the busing program would be “completely voluntary,” as of April 15, three buses of apprehended migrants have already arrived near the Capitol in Washington. The migrants have been welcomed by D.C.-based NGOs and put onto other buses and trains towards their actual destinations.
On April 14, Abbott announced he had negotiated several separate deals with local Mexican governors to halt the vehicle inspections at international bridges. The details and legality of the deals are not yet clear, but according to statements from Governor Abbott they seem to include additional information-sharing arrangements and the continuance of security initiatives that were already ongoing. Previously, on April 14, two Mexican governors had criticized Abbott’s actions as “overzealous” and implemented only to score “political points.”
Florida Governor Intends to Transport Undocumented Immigrants Out of the State
On April 12, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that his government intends to transport undocumented immigrants placed in Florida elsewhere. A spokesperson for Governor DeSantis’ office said that the transport of undocumented immigrants out of Florida was included in the governor’s recent budget recommendations. The budget proposed by the State Legislature includes $12 million for the Florida Department of Transportation to carry out the relocations. DeSantis suggested relocating said immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Delaware, or other “progressive” jurisdictions.
The legality of the plan, which was first announced on December 13, remains unclear. After a similar effort was announced in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott (R-Texas) clarified that he would only bus migrants who volunteered to leave.
Massachusetts Legislature Appropriates $10 Million for Refugee Resettlement in the State
On April 1, the Massachusetts legislature passed a $1.67 billion supplemental budget, which includes $10 million to the State’s Office of Immigrants and Refugees to support the resettlement of refugees in the State. That office assists with refugee employment, financial literacy, case management, and more.
Congressional Research Service (CRS), “Legal Sidebar: Expedited Removal of Aliens: An Introduction,” March 25, 2022
This CRS legal sidebar provides a brief introduction to expedited removal, a process through which the Department of Honeland Security can summarily remove immigrants who recently entered the United States if they are inadmissible either because they (1) lack valid entry documents, or (2) tried to procure their admission into the United States through fraud or misrepresentation. By law, access to the asylum system is still available under expedited removal.
Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG), “ICE Spent Funds on Unused Beds, Missed Detention Standards while Housing Migrant Families in Hotels,” April 12, 2022
This OIG report highlights that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement failed to adequately justify the need to spend $17 million to house migrant families at six hotels that went largely unused between April and June 2021.
U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs; Report of the Visa Office 2021; April 12, 2022
This annual report provides statistical information on immigrant and nonimmigrant visa issuances by consular offices, as well as information on the use of visa numbers in numerically limited categories in 2021.
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES
This resource provides policy recommendations that would create more humane and efficient border processing, refocus on regional approaches that combat trafficking networks and address the root causes of migration, and enact practical border security fixes that address key remaining vulnerabilities.
This explainer describes the current state of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, discussing the ongoing attempts to scale back or end the program in the courts and the impact if DACA were to end.
This explainer provides more information about the Title 42 border policy, its impact on the border, and what will happen when the policy is lifted on May 23.
This blog post describes mounting backlogs and budget shortfalls at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), describes the impact of recent legislation designed to better fund USCIS, and concludes that additional appropriations will be necessary for USCIS to achieve its mission.
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*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 email@example.com. Thank you.