Legislative Bulletin — Friday, April 22, 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

H.R. 7507

To provide increased penalties for a country that denies or delays accepting 2,000 aliens who are nationals of that country

Sponsored by Representative Madison Cawthorn (R-North Carolina) (1 cosponsor— 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

04/14/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Cawthorn

04/14/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 7528

No Aid for Abetting Illegal Immigration Act

The bill would prohibit the President of the United States from providing assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, or Nicaragua unless these countries develop and implement laws and policies to cease the flow of migrants through their countries to the United States.

Sponsored by Representative Randy Weber (R-Texas) (9 cosponsors— 9 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

04/14/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Weber

04/14/2022 Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, April 25.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Tuesday, April 26, through Friday, April 29.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Hearing: Oversight of Federal Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking

Date: Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at 10:00 am E.T. (House Judiciary Committee)

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

Witnesses: TBD

Hearing: Oversight of the Department of Homeland Security

Date: Thursday, April 28, 2022, at 10:00 am E.T. (House Judiciary Committee)

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

Witnesses: TBD

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Biden Administration Faces Pushback on Decision to End Title 42

The Biden administration has received significant pushback on its decision to roll back Title 42 border restrictions by May 23, including from congressional Democrats. At least ten Senate Democrats — including Senator and Chair of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Gary Peters (D-Michigan) — have called on the administration to delay the end of Title 42 until there is a more concrete plan to replace the policy. A bipartisan bill aimed at extending the use of Title 42 beyond May 23 called the Public Health and Border Security Act of 2022 has received the support of five Senate Democrats and six House Democrats.

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 used the rule over 1.7 million times to expel migrants. According to an April 19 Axios report, some members of President Biden’s inner circle are considering delaying the repeal of the policy past May 23.

Advocacy groups and international organizations have widely criticized the use of the policy at the border. They argue that deportations under Title 42 are inconsistent with international norms and fail to manage the border in an orderly and humane fashion. 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 administration has announced a plan to replace Title 42 and address potential increases in migration at the border, including by surging resources and personnel to assist with migrant processing, implementing a new rule to expedite asylum processes, and engaging in bilateral negotiations with other countries in the hemisphere.

Biden Administration Announces New Streamlined Process to Welcome Ukrainians Fleeing Russia’s Invasion

On April 21, the Biden administration announced a new private sponsorship parole program called Uniting for Ukraine to expand the available pathways for Ukrainian citizens who have been displaced by Russia’s invasion to come to the United States.

To be eligible, Ukrainians must have a financial sponsor in the United States, and they must have been residents in Ukraine as of February 11, 2022. They must also complete vaccinations and other public health requirements and pass a series of security screenings. Beginning on April 25, 2022, an online DHS portal will allow U.S.-based individuals and entities to apply to sponsor displaced Ukrainians. Those hoping to sponsor will be required to declare their financial support and pass security background checks.

The program is not part of the refugee resettlement system and would instead offer up to two years of humanitarian parole. Parolees would be protected against deportation and be eligible to apply for work authorization but would not be eligible for other resettlement benefits and assistance that is offered to refugees. Unlike refugees, Ukrainian parolees would also not have a clear path to permanent status.

The program comes on the heels of a March 24 announcement in which President Biden committed to welcoming 100,000 Ukrainian refugees through a variety of legal pathways. Because refugee resettlement and other visa pathways are heavily backlogged, prior to the announcement of the Uniting for Ukraine program thousands of Ukrainians traveled to Mexico and then attempted to apply for protections at the U.S.-Mexico border. Many were welcomed in under parole at ports of entry, while others remain waiting near the border. As part of the administration’s April 21 announcement, Ukrainians will be turned away at the border on April 25 and encouraged to instead apply through the Uniting for Ukraine portal. It is unclear what will happen to those who are still waiting in Mexico.

On April 19, the Biden administration also published the designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Special Student Relief (SSR) authorization for Ukrainians who were present in the U.S. as of April 11, 2022. Special Student Relief is the suspension of certain regulatory requirements by the Department of Homeland Security for F‑1 students from parts of the world that are experiencing extraordinary and emergent circumstances.

CBP Border Data Reveals Sharp Increase in Migrant Arrivals in March

On April 18, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released official data on the number of migrants the agency had apprehended or encountered at the border in the month of March. The data showed a 34% increase in overall monthly arrivals as the numbers increased to 221,303 in March from 164,973 in February. The overall numbers continue to be inflated by a high number of repeat crossers, with recidivism rates reported at 28%. Taking this repeat crosser rate into account, CBP reported that the total number of “unique” crossers encountered was 159,900 — a 28% increase from February.

Around 50% of all encounters — a total of 109,509 individuals — were immediately expelled under a pandemic-era rule called Title 42, which is expected to end on May 23.

The sharp increase in overall apprehensions was fueled by an increase in migration across demographics and nationality groups. Particularly prominent increases include a 94% increase in migration from Cuba (32,296 encounters), a 1104% increase in migration from Ukraine (3,274 encounters), and a record-high number of unaccompanied Mexican children (3,019 encounters).

USCIS Received 483,927 Requests for H-1B Specialty Occupation Visas for FY 2023

On April 14, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported that the agency had received a staggering 483,927 requests for H-1B specialty occupation visas for fiscal year (FY) 2023. These numbers represent a 36% increase over FY 2022 when the agency received 308,613 requests. Despite the high number of applicants, H-1B visas are annually capped at 85,000, out of which 20,000 H-1B visas are reserved for graduates with advanced degrees from a U.S. institution, and 65,000 are available for other applicants.

The H-1B program allows companies and other employers in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in highly specialized occupations that require at least a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty. H-1B specialty occupations may include fields such as architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts.

Biden Administration Expands Hemispheric Strategies to Manage Migration

On April 19, the Biden administration signed an agreement with Panama to improve the management of migration between the two countries and increase access to legal pathways to immigration. That agreement came after Panama, Mexico and Costa Rica established visa requirements that make it more difficult for Venezuelans and Cubans to transit through their countries toward U.S. territory. Moreover, on April 21, the Biden administration and Cuba held talks to restore the terms of bilateral migration accords under which the United States agreed to issue at least 20,000 immigrant visas annually to Cubans, and Cuba agreed to accept deportation flights of those who arrived illegally or were deemed otherwise inadmissible. A similar agreement was reached between the United States and Costa Rica last month.

On April 20, the Biden administration published updates on the Collaborative Migration Management Strategy (Migration Strategy). Launched in July 2021 by the Biden administration, the Migration Strategy seeks to improve regional cooperation to manage migration and enhance access to lawful pathways for migration. Among the updates, the Biden administration highlighted that it pledged $310 million for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, out of which $255 million will go to humanitarian relief and $55 million will go toward addressing food insecurity to tackle some of the root causes of migration.

Biden Administration has Reunited 200 Families Separated Under Trump Presidency

On April 18, the Biden Administration reported that the Family Reunification Task Force has so far reunited 200 families after being separated under former President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” border policy.

The zero-tolerance policy — which was met with widespread criticism from members of Congress, faith groups, and the general public — resulted in the deliberate separation of more than 3,900 migrant children from their parents in 2018. In response, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a class-action lawsuit against the government, “seeking damages on behalf of thousands of traumatized children and parents who were forcibly torn from each other.”

State & Local

26 GOP Governors Create ‘Border Strike Force’ to Address Security at the Border

On April 19, the Republican Governors of 26 states — spearheaded by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey — announced the creation of the American Governors’ Border Strike Force.” The Border Strike Force was launched through a memorandum signed by the Governors that details plans to establish a multi-state partnership to deter, disrupt, and dismantle drug trafficking and transnational criminal organizations that operate along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The new partnership aims to enhance interstate collaboration and intelligence sharing to tackle human smuggling and reduce drug flow in the participating states. In the agreement, each Governor committed to designate one senior law enforcement official to formulate plans for procedures that will assist other states with border security.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Government Accountability Office (GAO), “CBP Should Improve Data Collection, Reporting, and Evaluation for the Missing Migrant Program,”; April 20, 2022

This GAO report highlights that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Missing Migrant Program, created in 2017 to help rescue migrants in distress and reduce migrant deaths along the southwest border, has failed to collect and record complete data on migrant deaths and does not have a plan to evaluate how the program is working.

Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG), “Yuma Sector Border Patrol Struggled to Meet TEDS Standards for Single Adult Men but Generally Met TEDS Standards for Other Populations,” April 14, 2022

This DHS OIG report highlights that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities at the Yuma Sector failed to meet the National Standards on Transport, Escort, Detention, and Search of immigrants in their custody. The report reveals that single adult men were held in crowded conditions, and those held in overflow military tents experienced temperatures exceeding 95 degrees. The report also highlights that Yuma station’s systems do not accurately reflect which detainees are held in cells indoors and in overflow military tents outdoors. Moreover, information about access to supplies, showers, and medical screening was unreliable.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Addressing Increases in Migration at the Southwest Border

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.

Explainer: Title 42 and What Comes Next at the Border

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.

Bill Analysis: Jumpstart Our Legal Immigration System Act

The bill seeks to recapture the unused family-based, employment-based, and diversity immigrant visas accumulated over the past three decades, going back to fiscal year (FY) 1992. The bill would also permit immigrants residing in the United States and their dependents an expedited process to file for adjustment of status, allowing them to file when eligible for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, even if a visa number is not yet available. This would allow them to obtain work authorization while waiting for a visa to become available, which among other benefits, would prevent Documented Dreamers from “aging out” of LPR eligibility at 21 and being forced to self-deport.

* * *

*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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