Legislative Bulletin — Friday, April 8, 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

S. 4021

Human Rights Violator Act of 2022

The bill would establish new grounds of inadmissibility for prospective immigrants who have participated in the persecution of people on the basis of their race, religion, nationality, social group, or political opinion. The bill would also make inadmissible all those who have participated in war crimes.

Sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) (1 cosponsor — 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

04/06/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Grassley

04/06/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

S. 4022

A bill to codify in statute the CDC title 42 expulsion order, which suspends the right for certain aliens to enter the United States land borders, until February 1, 2025

Sponsored by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) (9 cosponsors — 9 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

04/06/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Rubio

04/06/2022 Placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders

S. 4036

Public Health and Border Security Act

The bill would require all COVID-19 related national states of emergency to be lifted before the pandemic-era Title 42 health policy at the border can be officially terminated. The bill would also require a 60-day termination window and require the administration to submit a plan to Congress as to how it plans to address any possible influx of arriving migrants. The bill is a companion to H.R. 7459.

Sponsored by Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) (10 cosponsors — 5 Democrats, 5 Republicans)

03/31/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Sinema

03/31/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

H.R. 7332

North Korea Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2022

The bill would reauthorize the North Korean Human Rights Act and promote human rights in North Korea. The bill would appoint a Special Envoy to coordinate policy to protect North Korean refugees and assist in reuniting Korean America families who have been separated.

Sponsored by Representative Young Kim (R-California) (3 cosponsors — 2 Republicans, 1 Democrat)

03/31/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Kim

03/31/2022 Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

H.R. 7356

TPS Reform Act of 2022

The bill would remove current Temporary Protected Status (TPS) protections, shift authority to determine eligibility criteria for TPS from the executive branch to Congress, and set a maximum length of time that TPS can be provided.

Sponsored by Representative Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) (6 cosponsors — 6 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

04/01/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Brooks

04/01/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 7359

Stop Fentanyl Border Crossings Act

The bill would allow Title 42 public health authority to be used at the border to expel migrants in the name of preventing the smuggling of illicit drugs.

Sponsored by Representative Scott DesJarlais (R-Tennessee) (28 cosponsors — 28 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

04/04/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative DesJarlais

04/04/2022 Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce

H.R. 7374

Jumpstart Act

The bill contains several reforms to address the green card backlog. It allows those who have been waiting for over two years in the backlog to pay a fee to be exempted from visa limits, allows future unused employment-based green cards to roll over to family-based categories, and allows certain individuals in the U.S. but waiting in the green card backlog to receive work authorization.

Sponsored by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-California) (4 cosponsors — 4 Democrats, 0 Republicans)

04/04/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Lofgren

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

H.R. 7380

Cartel Haven Sanction Act

The bill would prohibit remittances from the United States to Mexico until a border wall has been constructed on the U.S.-Mexico border and is fully operational. The bill would also authorize additional sanctions on individuals associated with cartel or human trafficking organizations in Mexico.

Sponsored by Representative Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) (1 cosponsor — 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

04/04/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Gosar

04/04/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Foreign Affairs, Education, and Energy and Commerce

H.R. 7413

Immigration Enforcement Partnership Act

The bill would authorize state attorneys general to demand that the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to require that DHS adequately enforce various immigration enforcement duties or deputize state officials to carry out federal immigration enforcement functions under section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The bill would also allow state attorneys general to file a civil action against DHS if they believed that DHS was not abiding by these demands.

Sponsored by Representative Bill Posey (R-Florida) (0 cosponsors)

04/06/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Posey

04/06/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 7442

H-4 Work Authorization Act

The bill would allow H-4 visa holders (the spouses of H-1B specialty occupation visa holders) to be granted work authorization without needing to submit an official application document.

Sponsored by Representative Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Georgia) (1 cosponsor — 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

04/06/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Bourdeaux

04/06/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 7450

Build the Wall Now Act

The bill requires border barrier construction to restart within 24 hours of enactment and makes available funds that had been appropriated for wall construction under the previous administration, including those that were taken from U.S. Department of Defense accounts.

Sponsored by Representative Ted Budd (R-North Carolina) (12 cosponsors — 12 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

03/31/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Budd

03/31/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Homeland Security, Natural Resources, Energy and Commerce, Transportation and Infrastructure, Armed Services, Agriculture, Small Business, Oversight and Reform, and the Judiciary.

H.R. 7452

Updated Standards for Asylum (USA) Act

The bill would implement a number of restrictions on the asylum system, including increasing standards of proof at various stages in the asylum process, establishing additional penalties for asylum claims, and preventing asylum seekers from re-applying.

Sponsored by Representative John Carter (R-Texas) (0 cosponsors)

04/07/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Carter

04/07/2022 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security

H.R. 7459

Public Health and Border Security Act

The bill would require all COVID-19 related national states of emergency to be lifted before the pandemic-era Title 42 health policy at the border can be officially terminated. The bill would also require a 60-day termination window and require the administration to submit a plan to Congress as to how it plans to address any possible influx of arriving migrants. The bill is a companion to  S. 4036.

Sponsored by Representative Jared Golden (D-Maine) (1 cosponsor — 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

04/07/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Carter

04/07/2022 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives will not be in session the week of Monday, April 11, 2022.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

There are no immigration-related hearings or markups currently scheduled for the week of Monday, April 11, 2022.

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Bipartisan Group of Senators Aim to Prevent Biden Administration from Suspending Title 42 at the Border

On April 7, a bipartisan group of 11 Senators led by Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) and James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) introduced the Public Health and Border Security Act, a bill that would delay the end of Title 42 at the border, a pandemic-era policy that has been used to rapidly turn away arriving migrants without offering them the chance to seek protection under U.S. law. On April 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a 30-page assessment that concluded Title 42 “is no longer necessary” to protect public health and ordered the policy to be lifted by May 23.

The bill would require the multiple national states of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic to be lifted before Title 42 is terminated at the border. The legislation comes after many congressional Republicans and some Democrats have criticized the Biden administration for planning to lift Title 42 without having a clear plan in place at the border to replace it.

Other House and Senate Democrats have supported the decision to end Title 42. Senator Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) said “Title 42 is part of the problem, not the solution to the problem.” In a hearing on April 6, Representative Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) said “Does Title 42 stop migration? We’ve tried that…I hope the test case proves what works and what doesn’t.”

The disagreement over the end of Title 42 has led an impasse in bipartisan attempts to pass a $10 billion COVID-19 relief package. Republicans have insisted on including an amendment preventing the administration from ending Title 42 as a condition of moving forward on the relief package. But Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) refused to hold what would be a tough vote for much of his caucus, stating that the package “should not be held hostage for an extraneous issue.” The resulting stalemate has prevented the Senate from advancing the relief package in advance of a two-week congressional recess.

Congressional pushback on ending Title 42 occurs as the Biden administration is preparing for an increase in migrant arrivals this spring. The preparations are in response both to annual seasonal increases (with migration having peaked in May in five of the last eight years), as well as potential increases related to the need to process border crossers and asylum seekers  following the end of Title 42. The administration has established the Southwest Border Coordination Center to organize agency efforts and released a fact sheet detailing its preparations for an increase in migration.

Increasing Numbers of Ukrainians Arrive at the U.S.-Mexico Border to Seek Protection

According to multiple reports, more than 2,000 Ukrainians are waiting at the U.S.-Mexico border to cross into the U.S. and seek asylum. The Biden administration is processing the Ukrainians in at official crossing points that have been closed to other asylum seekers, but requiring them to wait in “metering” lines that can take several days.

An estimated 4 million forced migrants have fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion in late February. On March 25, the Biden administration committed to welcoming 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, but in March only 12 total Ukrainians were resettled via the slow-moving refugee resettlement program. Ukrainians do not need tourist visas to travel to Mexico, and the sluggishness of existing pathways to protection has led an increasing number to arrive at the southern border.

Many of the Ukrainians at the border are hoping to join relatives who are U.S. citizens or residents. There are approximately 1 million Americans of Ukrainian heritage living in the United States.

Low March Resettlement Numbers Demonstrate Challenge in Welcoming Ukrainians, Afghans Left Behind

On April 6, refugee resettlement data released by the State Department revealed the administration has resettled a total of 2,263 refugees in March 2022. The number represents a 6% increase from February. Halfway through the fiscal year, the administration is on track for just 17,516 total refugees resettled, only a fraction of the refugee ceiling of 125,000 set by the Biden administration in September 2021.

The slow-moving resettlement system has been unable to respond efficiently to forced migration crises in Afghanistan and Ukraine. On August 2, 2021, the U.S. created a “priority” path for certain Afghan nationals to enter the resettlement program. Over 16,000 Afghans applied for the pathway, but eight months later on April 2, zero have been resettled to the U.S. As for Ukrainian refugees, March resettlement data revealed just 12 Ukrainians were resettled even as the Biden administration committed to welcome 100,000 refugees fleeing the Russian invasion.

The low Ukrainian totals can be explained in part by the need to relocate resettlement operations from Kiev after the invasion. However, even in normal circumstances the resettlement system can take over two years from start to finish, preventing those in danger from accessing safety or protection in a timely manner.

Legal

Missouri, Arizona, and Louisiana File Lawsuit Against Biden Administration for Lifting Title 42

On April 4, several Republican attorneys general filed a lawsuit in the Western District of Louisiana challenging the CDC’s decision to terminate Title 42 on May 23. The lawsuit was filed by Arizona, Missouri, and Louisiana and asserts that the CDC termination order is illegal because it is arbitrary and capricious and violates notice-and-comment requirements in the Administrative Procedure Act. The text of the original CDC order authorizing the use of Title 42 at the border provided authority to CDC to terminate the policy at any time.

Previously, Republican attorneys general successfully sued the Biden administration for ending the Migrant Protection Protocols, another border measure initially implemented under the Trump administration, in a decision that faced heavy criticism from immigration advocates and legal commentators. That litigation, which is now before the Supreme Court, has forced the Biden administration to re-implement MPP.

ICE Directs OPLA Lawyers to Review and Clear Low-Priority Cases in Legal Memo

In an April 3 legal memo, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) directed its Office of the Principle Legal Advisory (OPLA) attorneys to review and clear cases that are not priorities under recently-established enforcement guidelines, such as those concerning individuals who are not public safety threats or recent border crossers.

According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, at least 700,000 cases currently in the immigration court backlog (approximately 40% of it) could be considered low-priority under the guidelines. The memo comes in addition to other efforts to address the ever-increasing court backlog, such as November 2021 guidance that allows immigration judges to use docket management tools like administrative closure to pause removal proceedings on certain individuals.

On April 5, the states of Florida, Alabama, and Georgia filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of Alabama challenging the recent enforcement guidelines that prioritize certain immigrants for enforcement and provide additional discretion to enforcement personnel. The suit claims the Biden administration guidelines violated the Administrative Procedure Act.

State and Local

TX Governor Threatens to Bus Arriving Migrants to Washington, D.C.

On April 6, Governor Greg Abbott (R-Texas) promised “unprecedented” action in response to the CDC’s April 1 announcement that it will be ending Title 42 on May 23. In opposing the Title 42 wind down, Abbott threatened to use state troopers to apprehend migrants at the border and bus the migrants to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Following criticism of the proposal’s legality and practicality, including criticism from the White House characterizing the announcement as a “publicity stunt,” the governor’s office later clarified the program would be “completely voluntary” for migrants and would occur only after migrants were processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which has jurisdiction over the border.

After CBP processing and placement into alternatives to detention, many migrants — particularly families and children — are already put on buses or flights to go to locations where they can continue their immigration court proceedings.

Arizona Legislature Introduces “Legal Vigilante” Bill Targeting Undocumented Immigrants, Also Enacts Voting Restrictions Likely to Impact Naturalized Citizen Voters

On March 30, Arizona lawmakers introduced a law that would create an open-access database in the state with pictures and information on undocumented immigrants. The bill, H.B. 2326, was introduced by Representative John Kavanagh(R-Arizona) of the Arizona House of Representatives. In an April 4 letter, Arizona business leaders expressed concern that the bill would allow and encourage “legal vigilantes” to target immigrant communities and urged state lawmakers to reject the bill.

Previously, on March 30, Gov. Doug Ducey (R-Arizona) signed into law a second bill (H.B. 2492) that requires Arizonans to obtain, copy, and submit paperwork that proves their citizenship and state residency when registering to vote. Critics have noted that such requirements have a disproportionate impact on communities less likely to have access to documents, potentially disenfranchising several communities of legal voters, including naturalized citizens, Native Americans, seniors, and lower income voters, and violates existing Supreme Court precedent. The Campaign Legal Center has filed a lawsuit against the bill, alleging that it creates discriminatory and unnecessary barriers for naturalized citizens that are not placed on other voters.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Congressional Research Service (CRS), “Legal Sidebar: The Department of Homeland Security’s Authority to Expand Expedited Removal Proceedings,” April 6, 2022

This CRS legal sidebar describes DHS removal proceedings and explains how a rapid deportation process called expedited removal fits into those proceedings. The sidebar examines the legality of the Trump administration’s attempt to dramatically expand the use of expedited removal and notes the open legal question of due process considerations that limit the use of expedited removal in the interior of the U.S.

Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG), “FEMA Successfully Assisted HHS in Providing Shelter and Supplies to Unaccompanied Children from the Southwest Border,” March 31, 2022

In March 2021, DHS directed FEMA to support the processing and care of increasing numbers of unaccompanied children arriving at the border. This OIG audit examines FEMA’s role in the process and concludes the agency accomplished its operational goals to help provide shelter and supplies to unaccompanied children. The report did not contain any recommendations.

Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG), “CBP Needs Improved Oversight for Its Centers for Excellence and Expertise,” March 31, 2022

This OIG report examines implementation of CBP Centers of Excellence and Expertise, which are meant to coordinate and improve policy on trade enforcement and facilitation across ports of entry. The report finds that there are no established performance standards for the Centers, making it difficult to determine their effectiveness.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Remaking USCIS: Supplementing a Fee-Funded Agency

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.

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.

Border Security Along the Southwest Border: Fact Sheet

This fact sheet analyzes the state of border security along the southwest border, describing the personnel and technology that have been deployed and the key threats the border continues to face at ports of entry.

* * *

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

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