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Legislative Bulletin — Friday, April 21, 2023

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:








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


Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act

This bill would repeal mandatory detention, bar children and families from being detained, create a presumption of release for vulnerable populations, phase out immigration detention at private facilities and jails, and make other changes to U.S. immigration detention. The House companion, H.R.2760, was introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington). 

Sponsored by Sen. Cory A. Booker (D- New Jersey) (6 cosponsors — 0 Republicans, 5 Democrats, 1 Independent)

04/19/2023 Introduced in the Senate by Sen. Cory A. Booker

04/19/2023 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary 


A bill to increase the number of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Customs and Border Protection officers and support staff and to require reports that identify staffing, infrastructure, and equipment needed to enhance security at ports of entry

Sponsored by Sen. Gary C. Peters (D-Michigan) (1 cosponsor — 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

04/20/2023 Introduced in the Senate by Sen. Gary C. Peters

04/20/2023 Referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

H.R. 2577

DHS Suicide Prevention and Resiliency for Law Enforcement Act

This bill would establish the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Program for law enforcement officers and agents. The Senate companion is S.1137. 

Sponsored by Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Mississippi) (1 cosponsor — 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

04/13/2023 Introduced in the House by Rep. Bennie G. Thompson

04/13/2023 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security


Ensuring United Families at the Border Act

This bill would explicitly state there is no presumption that a migrant child accompanied by family should not be detained. It would also require the Homeland Security Secretary to detain migrant families during misdemeanor prosecutions for entering unlawfully, establish a sense of Congress that these provisions satisfy the Flores Settlement Agreement, and bar states from requiring licensing for immigration detention facilities that hold kids.

Sponsored by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Arizona) (10 cosponsors — 10 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

04/13/2023 Introduced in the House by Rep. Andy Biggs

04/13/2023 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary


To require reports on the immigration status of individuals convicted of State crimes

Sponsored by Rep. George Santos (R-New York) (0 cosponsors)

04/17/2023 Introduced in the House by Rep. George Santos 

04/17/2023 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary


Terrorist Organization Classification Act

This bill would direct the Secretary of State to report to Congress on the designation as foreign terrorist organizations of Queen Nation, MS-13, Sinaloa, Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación, and Beltran Leyva Organization. 

Sponsored by Rep. George Santos (R-New York) (0 cosponsors)

04/17/2023 Introduced in the House by Rep. George Santos 

04/17/2023 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary


Border Security and Enforcement Act of 2023

This bill would limit asylum, require employers to verify workers’ immigration statuses, curtail the executive’s parole powers, create criminal penalties for visa overstays, and make other changes to immigration law.

Sponsored by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-California) (1 cosponsor — 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

04/17/2023 Introduced in the House by Rep. Tom McClintock 

04/19/2023 Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by the Yeas and Nays: 23 – 15

H.R. 2644

To reduce the amount of foreign assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras based on the number of unaccompanied alien children who are nationals or citizens of such countries and who in the preceding fiscal year are placed in Federal custody by reason of their immigration status

Sponsored by Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R-Texas) (0 cosponsors)

04/17/2023 Introduced in the House by Rep. Michael C. Burgess

04/17/2023 Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

H.R. 2697

Fairness to Freedom Act of 2023

This bill would create a right to legal representation at government expense for those facing removal and unable to afford counsel. 

Sponsored by Rep. Norma J. Torres (D-California) (20 cosponsors — 0 Republicans, 20 Democrats)

04/18/2023 Introduced in the House by Rep. Norma J. Torres

04/18/2023 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 2699

For the relief of Felipe Diosdado

Sponsored by Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Illinois) (0 cosponsors)

04/18/2023 Introduced in the House by Rep. Danny K. Davis 

04/18/2023 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary


Stop the Invasion Act

This bill would require the president to suspend the entry of noncitizens when the average number of encounters exceeds a limit.

Sponsored by Rep. Andrew Ogles (R-Tennessee) (15 cosponsors — 15 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

04/20/2023 Introduced in the House by Rep. Andrew Ogles

04/20/2023 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 2738

To amend section 235(b)(2)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to require the implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols

Sponsored by Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas) (1 cosponsor — 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

04/20/2023 Introduced in the House by Rep. Roger Williams 

04/20/2023 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary


To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to make the exception for returning workers permanent

Sponsored by Rep. Clay Higgins (R-Louisiana) (0 cosponsors)

04/20/2023 Introduced in the House by Rep. Clay Higgins

04/20/2023 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary


The U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Tuesday, April 25 through Friday, April 28, 2023.


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

Full Committee Markup of H.R. 1690 and H.R. 589

Date: Wednesday, April 26 at 10:30 a.m. EST (House Foreign Affairs Committee)

Location: U.S. Capitol, HVC-210, Washington, D.C.


H.R. 1690, To authorize the Secretary of State to negotiate regional immigration agreements, and for other purposes.

H.R. 589, To impose sanctions on the Supreme Leader of Iran and the President of Iran and their respective offices for human rights abuses and support for terrorism.

China in Our Backyard: How Chinese Money Laundering Organizations Enrich the Cartels

Date: Wednesday, April 26 at 2:00 p.m. EST (House Committee on Oversight and Accountability)

Location: 2247 Rayburn, Washington, D.C.

Witnesses: TBA

Examining the Effects of Increased Migration on Communities Along the Southern Border

Date: Wednesday, April 26 at 2:30 p.m. EST (Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs)

Location: Senate Dirksen Building, SD-562, Washington, D.C.


Douglas Nicholls, Mayor, City of Yuma

Clea McCaa II, Mayor, City of Sierra Vista

Francisco García, Deputy Administrator and Chief Medical Officer, Pima County

Kevin Hearod, Chief, McAlester Police Department

The Biden Border Crisis: Exploitation of Unaccompanied Alien Children

Date: Wednesday, April 26 at 3:00 p.m. EST (House Judiciary Committee)

Location: 2141 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Witnesses: TBA


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. 


Lawmakers Propose Competing Visions on Border Security, Immigration Reform Ahead of Title 42’s Planned End

On April 19, a restrictive immigration bill was reported favorably out of the House Judiciary Committee after a near party-line vote that followed hours of tense debate late into the night. 

The proposed legislation combines a number of immigration-related priorities for the House majority, including severely limiting asylum, curtailing parole and other humanitarian protections, ramping up detention, and cracking down on people who overstay their visas. 

But even as lawmakers discussed and eventually advanced the bill — likely for consideration on the House floor in coming weeks — their more moderate Republican colleagues warned that the legislation still has “a long way to go before it hits prime time.” 

“As an immigrant myself, I will never support anything that doesn’t allow for valid asylum claims,” Rep. Carlos A. Gimenez (R-Florida) said. “That’s what America is all about.”

During the committee markup Wednesday, Judiciary Republicans did agree to remove an especially polemical provision that could have suspended the entry of migrants into the United States, largely choking off access to asylum. But even with that amendment, the bill would still significantly impede asylum seekers’ ability to pursue protection claims. And other controversial proposals also remain, like a section of the bill that would restrict the executive’s parole powers and another that would mandate employers to verify their workers’ immigration statuses. 

Meanwhile, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) released an alternative framework on Tuesday to respond to large-scale migration at the southern border as part of a regional diaspora. His plan focuses on four “pillars:” creating and expanding legal immigration pathways, increasing resources at the border, expanding assistance and financing for migrants across the hemisphere, and countering transnational crime around human trafficking and smuggling. 

Amid decades of congressional inaction on immigration, Menendez’s proposal details a response to the current situation at the southern border and beyond that relies heavily on the Biden administration — not lawmakers — to make changes.  

“I do believe that there are a series of executive actions the administration can take that would more effectively and humanely deal with our challenges,” Menendez told the New York Times. 

These competing visions of how to address emergent immigration policy and border security concerns come even as the federal government prepares for the planned end next month of the Title 42 policy, which has functioned as an enforcement tool allowing officials to quickly expel migrants without the chance to claim asylum for years now. 

On Tuesday, three House Democrats wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas acknowledging a potential increase in asylum seekers arriving at the southern border once the Title 42 public health order expires. The lawmakers expressed a desire to work with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to ensure officials can “expeditiously and humanely process and care for these individuals.” They applauded DHS for expanding legal pathways and encouraged more efforts to do so, while also urging the department to provide adequate housing for migrants in custody, quickly process people, and keep building partnerships with NGOs.

Separately, Mayorkas said Thursday that the administration would have more to share next week on how it’s preparing for Title 42’s expected end at the southern border, including through the addition of more detention beds. 

Report: Biden Administration Missed or Ignored Signs of Mass Child Labor Exploitation 

On April 17, the New York Times published a follow-up to its February exposé on migrant child labor, focusing on the many signs and flags of mass exploitation that the Biden administration missed or chose to ignore. 

Earlier this year, the Times published an investigation into widespread migrant child labor and exploitation, suggesting the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had been derelict in its responsibility to vet sponsors and protect children from trafficking. 

Now, in this week’s dispatch, a shelter staff member who vetted sponsors and a senior careerist at HHS explained how they had been inexplicably pushed out of their roles after blowing the whistle that children might be at risk. 

“I feel like short of protesting in the streets, I did everything I could to warn them,” said Jallyn Sualog, who resigned from her position at HHS after raising concerns about potential migrant child exploitation. “They just didn’t want to hear it.”

Others from outside the government also tried to sound the alarms. Matt Haygood, senior director of children’s services at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, sent an email to HHS officials expressing a fear of potential trafficking in the Chicago metro area. He expected that his message would result in greater safeguards for children released there. Instead, HHS decided not to act — despite an HHS staff member acknowledging that many of the cases in that area, Little Village, had been marked as suspicious. 

HHS officials said that their legal responsibility for unaccompanied kids ends upon release, they cannot control what happens next, and workplace monitoring is the job of the Department of Labor. 

The Labor Department, meanwhile, said it’s not a welfare agency, although staffers have started focusing more on child labor and are sharing information with HHS.

On April 18, lawmakers held a House Oversight hearing regarding the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s unaccompanied migrant children program. ORR Director Robin Dunn Marcos said that her office had recently signed an agreement with the Labor Department to provide coordinated information sharing and pause the placements of children in areas that had been flagged. 

Irregular Migrant Crossings Up 25% in March at the Southern Border 

On April 17, U.S. Customs and Border Protection published data showing irregular border crossings up by 25% in March — an increase the agency attributed to seasonal migration trends during warmer temperatures. 

U.S. Border Patrol agents documented just over 162,000 migrant encounters between ports of entry at the U.S.’s southwest border in March, compared with around 130,000 the month before. Despite this uptick, those numbers represent a year-over-year decline — there were more than 211,000 encounters in March 2022 and nearly 170,000 in March 2021. 

If processing at ports of entry is also included, a final tally of 191,900 migrant encounters took place last month across the southwest border. Single adults represented the bulk of them, but family encounters were disproportionately up 38% compared to February. 

Meanwhile, encounters among Haitians, Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans crossing unlawfully have remained relatively low since the Biden administration announced its new parole programs, which allowed over 27,000 people from those four countries to reach the U.S. in March. 

Nearly 23,000 people also received exceptions to the Title 42 policy through the CBP One phone app last month, and the agency said it had administered a number of improvements and software updates to address reported technical difficulties with that process. 

No Plans for Family Immigration Detention to Return ‘At This Time’ 

On April 18, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Tae Johnson told lawmakers at a budget hearing that the Biden administration had no plan to restart family immigration detention “at this time.” 

Instead, amid an anticipated increase in migration at the southern border, Johnson said that ICE would use alternatives to detention and is considering a program similar to house arrest. 

As the Title 42 public health order is set to end in May, officials have reportedly been mulling a return to family detention as a deterrence mechanism, causing widespread outcry from immigration advocates and some Democratic legislators. 

After Johnson’s comments, the Washington Post reported on Thursday that Mayorkas still wouldn’t rule out the possibility of bringing back family detention. 

Haitians Applying for Asylum in Mexico, Instead of Continuing on to the U.S. 

Haitians are on pace to file a new record number of asylum claims in Mexico this year, as some of them set aside dreams of reaching the United States amid more restrictive border policies here. 

But this large number of migrants staying in Mexico is putting significant pressure on the country’s existing services — and as the Forum recently explained, Mexico’s asylum system is already backlogged and overwhelmed. 

These increases in humanitarian applications for Mexico underscore how the situation at the U.S.’s southern border is part of a larger regional diaspora across the Western Hemisphere. Yet another sign of this phenomenon: more than 87,000 people have traveled across the treacherous Darién Gap between South and Central America during the first three months of 2023 — a staggering number that reflects just how many individuals and families are migrating north in search of refuge or a better life. 

Among those making the trek through the Darién Gap so far this year have been nearly 4,000 Chinese migrants, who are traveling through Latin America to the U.S. in order to pursue freedoms and opportunities not available back home, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.


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. 

Office of Inspector General (OIG); Evaluation of DHS’ Information Security Program for Fiscal Year 2022; April 17, 2023

This report assesses whether the Department of Homeland Security’s information security program was effective in fiscal year 2022. It identifies six deficiencies and makes one recommendation for improvement. 

U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO); Southwest Border: DHS Coordinates with and Funds Nonprofits Serving Noncitizens; April 19, 2023

This report examines how the Department of Homeland Security coordinates with nonprofits when it releases noncitizens. It also explores how funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been provided to nonprofits that serve noncitizens.

U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO); DHS Annual Assessment: Major Acquisition Programs Are Generally Meeting Goals, but Cybersecurity Policy Needs Clarification; April 20, 2023

This report reviews a number of Department of Homeland Security acquisition programs.


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: 

Bill Summary: Regional Immigration and Diplomacy Enforcement (RIDE) Act

This bill summary explains the provisions in the Regional Immigration and Diplomacy Enforcement (RIDE) Act, or H.R. 1690, which was introduced by Rep. Michael T. McCaul (R-Texas). 

Florida’s Immigration Enforcement Legislation: Five Key Concerns

This resource provides key information about the legislative package Republican lawmakers in Florida introduced on March 7, 2023.

Mexico’s Asylum System: Good in Theory, Insufficient in Practice

This paper details Mexico’s asylum system — its progress and deficiencies — amid the Biden administration’s proposed rule that would push migrants to apply for asylum elsewhere, including in Mexico.

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

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