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Legislative Bulletin – Friday, April 20, 2018

 

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. 2693

Immigration Court Improvement Act

This bill seeks to insulate immigration judges from political interference and enhance the effectiveness of U.S. immigration courts.

Sponsored by Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D – Hawaii) (2 cosponsors – 2 Democrats)

04/18/2018 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Hirono

04/18/2018 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 5496

TPS Process Reform Act

This bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to restrict the extension of temporary protected status (TPS) designations, limiting extensions to only 6-month periods and terminating TPS where the Attorney General fails to act on the extension of an expiring designation.

Sponsored by Representative Scott Perry (R – Pennsylvania) (1 cosponsor – 1 Republican)

04/12/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Perry

04/12/2018 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 2

Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018

This is the House version of the 2018 Farm Bill. It would provide for the reform and continuation of agricultural and other programs of the Department of Agriculture through fiscal year 2023, it includes changes in the work and eligibility requirements of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. Refugees, asylees, victims of trafficking, and qualified alien children under 18 are all eligible for the SNAP program.

Sponsored by Representative Michael K. Conaway (R – Texas) (0 cosponsors)

04/12/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Conaway

04/12/2018 Referred to the House Committee on Agriculture

H.R. 5510

Reentry and Reunification Act of 2018

This bill would authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security to provide lawful permanent resident status to previously removed alien parents and spouses of U.S. citizens.

Sponsored by Representative Al Green (D – Texas) (25 cosponsors – 25 Democrats)

04/13/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Green

04/13/2018 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, April 23, 2018.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Tuesday, April 24, 2018 to Friday, April 27, 2018.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Oversight of HHS and DHS Efforts to Protect Unaccompanied Alien Children from Human Trafficking and Abuse

Date: Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. (Senate Homeland Security Committee)

Location: SD-342, Dirksen Senate Office Building

Witnesses:

Panel I

James W. McCament, Deputy Under Secretary, Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Steven Wagner, Acting Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Kathryn A. Larin, Director, Education, Welfare, and Income Security Team, U.S. Government Accountability Office

Panel II

Allison E. Herre, Immigration Legal Services Director, Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio

Jessica A. Ramos, Staff Attorney, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality

Kelsey Wong, Program Director and Project Director, Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center

FY 2019 – Pipeline to the Workforce

This hearing will discuss Department of Labor and Department of Education programs, including those that are available to immigrants.

Date: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. (House Appropriations Committee)

Location: 2358-C Rayburn

Witnesses:

Tom Friedemann, Ed.D., Superintendent/CEO, Francis Tuttle Technology Center, Oklahoma City, OK

Dr. Maria H. Coons, Vice President of Workforce and Strategic Alliances, Harper College, Palatine, IL

G. David Sload, President-CEO, Keystone Chapter, Associated Builders and Contractors, Manheim, PA

Portia Wu, Director of Workforce Policy, Microsoft Corporation

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Legal

U.S. Supreme Court’s Ruling Changes Standard for Deportation

On April 17, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a statutory provision that categorically labels certain types of crimes as “crimes of violence” is too vague to prompt deportation proceedings. The 5-4 decision, in which conservative Trump appointee, Justice Neil Gorsuch joined with the four liberals on the court to strike down a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that broadly defined “crime of violence” to include offenses that did not involve violence. Under the ruling, the government will have to show that a crime was actually violent to be considered an aggravated felony triggering removal.

The case involved James Garcia Dimaya, a legal immigrant from the Philippines who was convicted of two burglaries. Neither offense involved a violent act, yet the federal government-initiated deportation proceedings against him. The ruling, which affirmed a 2015 lower court decision, is limited to crimes carrying prison terms of more than one year, but do not otherwise involve violence. The ruling does not affect clearly violent aggravated felonies like murder rape, assault, and drug trafficking that trigger deportation under the INA.

In response to the ruling, President Donald Trump called on Congress to pass legislation “to ensure violent criminal aliens can be removed from our society.”  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a separate statement asserting that the decision “significantly undermines” the administration’s efforts to remove immigrants who committed crimes.

Seventh Circuit Upholds Nationwide Injunction Against New Grant Conditions for Sanctuary Jurisdictions

On April 19, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld a nationwide injunction barring Attorney General Jeff Sessions from applying new conditions to federal law enforcement grants. Citing constitutional separation of powers principles, the three-judge panel – all Republican appointees – ruled that Sessions could not place new requirements on Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) law enforcement grants. The new conditions were aimed at punishing so-called sanctuary jurisdictions that had policies in place limiting their involvement in federal immigration enforcement. Byrne JAG grants are a leading source of federal funding to state and local jurisdictions to support law enforcement, prosecution and crime prevention, among other initiatives.

In September, a federal district court ruled that Sessions could not withhold public safety grant money to Chicago or other so-called sanctuary cities for refusing to grant federal immigration officials access to local jails and giving federal authorities a 48-hour notice before releasing any individuals wanted for an immigrant violation. The Seventh Circuit agreed, with Judge Ilana Rovner writing, “The Attorney General in this case used the sword of federal funding to conscript state and local authorities to aid in federal civil immigration enforcement. But the power of the purse rests with Congress, which authorized the federal funds at issue and did not impose any immigration enforcement condition on the receipt of such funds.”

Two of the three judges on the panel upheld the nationwide scope of the injunction against Sessions attaching the new grant conditions, with Judge Daniel Manion dissenting from that part of the decision, stating that he would have limited the decision to apply only to Chicago.

The Seventh Circuit decision prompted criticism from the U.S. Department of Justice and led President Trump to condemn “sanctuary cities” in an evening tweet.

Federal

Representatives, Advocates Keep Fighting for Dreamers

Representatives Jeff Denham (R-California), Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Pete Aguilar (D-California) held a press conference ton April 18, advocating for a House resolution that would allow floor debate and a vote on four immigration bills. A majority of the House – more than 50 Republicans and 190 Democrats – have cosponsored H. Res. 774,  which would require votes on Hurd’s and Aguilar’s USA Act sponsored by Hurd (R-Texas) and Pete Aguilar (D-California); Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s (R-Florida) and Lucille Roybal-Allard’s (D-California) DREAM Act ; Representative Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Virginia) Securing America’s Future Act, and a bill of Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R- Wisconsin) choice. Under a procedure called “Queen of the Hill,” the proposal with the most votes would pass the House. The effort has yet to earn support of Speaker Ryan (R-Wisconsin), who does “not think that’s the right way to go.”

Given the resolution’s majority support, there is some thought that its proponents could force the votes using a discharge petition, which would bring the resolution directly to the floor – bypassing Ryan – if it received 218 signatures. Yet, it is unclear whether the resolution’s Republican cosponsors would be willing to cross GOP leadership by signing on to a petition.

At the same time, advocates continue to support Dreamers and beneficiaries of the DACA program. The conservative Koch network announced that two of its programs – the Libre Initiative and Freedom Partners – plan to launch an advertising campaign in support of Dreamers. The campaign will consist of television and digital advertisements and is scheduled to begin on April 22.

New Directive Extends ICE’s Power to Detain Immigrant Parents

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released a 2017 directive that calls for the detention of immigrant parents, even in cases when they have a direct interest in family court or child welfare proceedings in the United States. The directive instructs ICE personnel to “remain cognizant of the impact enforcement actions may have” on citizen and legal permanent resident family members, but permits ICE officers to detain and remove immigrant parents and legal guardians of children on a case-by-case basis. This is largely a reversal of 2013 Obama administration guidance that directed ICE to ensure that its enforcement activities “do not unnecessarily disrupt” parental custody of minor children. Advocates have expressed concern that the new directive will lead to the separation of families.

USCIS Records Seem to Contradict DHS Decision to End Haitian TPS

Documents released by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Tuesday, April 17, revealed an internal agency report that appears to contradict the agency’s recent decision to end Temporary Protection Status(TPS) for Haiti. Then-DHS acting secretary Elaine Duke announced the termination of Haitian TPS in November 2017, based in part on an assessment drafted by USCIS director Francis Cissna, in which he asserted “Haiti has made significant progress in recovering from the 2010 earthquake, and no longer continues to meet the conditions for designation.”

Contradicting Cissna’s assessment and Duke’s decision to terminate TPS for Haiti, an internal agency report drafted weeks before Duke’s announcement stated that “[m]any of the of the conditions prompting the original January 2010 TPS designation [for Haiti] persist, and the country remains vulnerable to external shocks and internal fragility,” contradicting Cissna and Duke.

The documents were released pursuant to Freedom of Information Act litigation filed by National Lawyers Guild and a professor at New York School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic.

A recent Pew Research Center report found that the number of applications for asylum in Canada received from Haitians surged from 631 in 2016 to 8,286 in 2017, likely as a result of the decision to end TPS.

H-1B Applications Decline for Second Consecutive Year

USCIS received 190,000 H-1B applications for fiscal year (FY) 2019, a 4 percent decline from the 199,000 it received in FY 2018. It is the second consecutive year in which the number of H-1B applications have declined after years of steady increases. Congress limits the number of H-1B visas to 65,000 per year, a number set in 1990, plus an additional 20,000 exemptions for those with qualifying advanced degrees. Despite years of rising demand for high-skilled foreign workers, particularly by technology companies, Congress has not increased the number of H-1B visas in more than a decade.

While the cause of the decline is unclear, a number of factors may have contributed, including uncertainty over the H-1B visa’s future, a shift towards advanced technologies in the IT industry, and a new USCIS rule prohibiting employers from issuing multiple petitions for the same employee.

recent study revealed that a majority of Indian-based companies saw declines in approved H-1B visas, while large U.S. tech firms such as Amazon and Microsoft saw sharp increases.   The decrease in applications submitted by Indian-based businesses is in line with the industry trends toward digital services such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence, which require fewer workers. The companies also voluntarily choose to depend less on visas and to build up their domestic workforces in America

State and Local

California Governor Places Restrictions on National Guard Troops Sent to Border, Spurring Backlash from Trump

California Governor Jerry Brown (D-California) reached a compromise with Homeland Security and Defense officials on deploying California National Guard troops to the border. After a several days of negotiations, Brown agreed to send 400 National Guardsmen to the border to help the fight against drug trafficking and crime around the Southern border but would play no part in enforcing federal immigration laws or otherwise engaging in direct law enforcement roles. Brown, who had previously declined President Trump’s request to send the National Guard to the border, authorized its deployment in an order signed on Wednesday, April 18.

The restrictions placed on the troops spurred criticism from Trump, who warned that the administration would not fund the deployment if the troops “do nothing.” The Pentagon later confirmed that it would fund the California National Guard’s deployment.

Governor Brown Defends California Values Act as Some Cities and Counties Express Opposition

In an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on April 17, Governor Jerry Brown (D-California) defended the California Values Act (SB 54), the 2017 state law that limited how state and local law enforcement could cooperate with federal immigration officials. Brown characterized SB 54 as “very measured,” noting that he insisted on a substantial number of modifications to the original bill. Those changes provided for exceptions permitting police and sheriffs to share information and transfer suspects to federal authorities if they have been convicted of one of 800 specified crimes. In March, the Trump administration filed a lawsuit challenging SB 54 and two other California laws it says hamper the federal government’s enforcement of immigration laws.

In his remarks, Brown also called for immigration reform, expressing frustration that the immigration debate has become “an inflammatory football that very low-life politicians like to exploit.” Brown blamed Congress for the failure to fix a dysfunctional immigration system and criticized the Trump administration’s interior enforcement and deportation policies.

Brown’s statements occurred as a number of Republican-governed California cities and counties have expressed opposition to SB 54, including votes by the Orange County and San Diego County Boards of Supervisors to file amicus briefs in support of the Trump administration’s lawsuit against California.

Albuquerque Passes Measures Limiting Immigration Enforcement

On April 16, the Albuquerque (New Mexico) City Council passed a series of “immigrant friendly” measures to limit local involvement in federal immigration enforcement. The measures, aimed at increasing trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement, would prevent federal immigration authorities from entering city facilities for immigration enforcement purposes unless they have a warrant. The measures also forbid city employees and law enforcement officials from requesting information on individuals’ citizenship or immigration status, and bar the use of local tax dollars from going toward federal immigration enforcement.

The votes by the Democratic-majority city council occurred amid a series of federal court rulings forbidding the Department of Justice from requiring that localities increase their role in immigration enforcement in order to receive law enforcement grants.

Dozens Arrested in North Carolina Immigration Raids

At least 40 individuals were arrested in North Carolina in raids by ICE agents. An ICE spokesperson confirmed on April 16, that approximately 15 people were arrested in western North Carolina and 25 people in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area the previous week. All of the arrested individuals were charged with illegal entry to the United States.

While ICE confirmed that the majority of individuals arrested had previous criminal convictions, it did not rule out that other individuals without prior convictions were also arrested. Immigrant advocates and a number of elected officials in North Carolina have criticized the raids, saying the actions unsettle local communities and separate families.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Congressional Research Service: An Overview of Discretionary Reprieves from Removal: Deferred Action, DACA, TPS, and Others, April 10, 2018 (by Ben Harrington)

This report is an overview of discretionary reprieves from removal. It examines the primary sources of authority on which discretionary reprieves are based and describes the nature of the protections they generally grant. Finally, the report provides a glossary of the principal types of discretionary reprieves.

Congressional Research Service: Comparing DHS Component Funding, FY2018: In BriefApril 17, 2018 (by William L. Painter)

This report provides tables, figures and charts, comparing enacted budget authority for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for FY 2017; the Trump administration’s budget request for FY 2018; the funding levels provided in H.R. 3354, which included the House-passed homeland security appropriations bill; the unnumbered Senate Appropriations Committee draft released on November 21, 2017; and the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2018.

U.S. Government Accountability Office: Immigration Detention: Opportunities Exist to Improve Cost Estimates, April 18, 2018 (by Rebecca Gambler)

This report examines how the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) formulates its budget request for detention resources, develops bed rates and determinates average daily population (ADP) for use in its budget process, as well as the agency’s methods for estimating detention costs.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Statement for The Record: Strengthening and Reforming America’s Immigration Court System

This is the National Immigration Forum’s statement for the record submitted for the Senate Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration hearing on “Strengthening and Reforming America’s Immigration Court System” held on April 18, 2018.

Factsheet: U.S. Refugee Resettlement

This factsheet summarizes basic facts and statistics about refugee resettlement in the United States. It describes refugee screening process and provides some basic data about refugees in the U.S.

Immigrants as Economic Contributors: Complementing not Competing

This is the first piece of the Forum’s six-part series on economic contributions of our immigrants. It addresses research revealing that immigrants and U.S. workers complement rather than compete with each other in the workforce.

 

* * *

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

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