Skip to content

Legislative Bulletin — Friday, December 1, 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:

DEVELOPMENTS IN IMMIGRATION THIS WEEK

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

DEVELOPMENTS IN IMMIGRATION THIS WEEK

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. 

Federal 

Senate Negotiators Feel Pressure From All Sides As Border-Ukraine Deal Stalls 

This week, a bipartisan group of senators failed to reach a deal to trade border policy changes for Ukraine aid, amid divisions within the Democratic caucus and pressures from the right for even more aggressive reforms. 

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), one of the primary negotiators on an agreement, acknowledged that the group’s plans to forge a deal by some time this week “didn’t work out,” even as key Biden administration officials have reportedly been pressuring Congress to deliver. 

Local Democrats in cities and states that have experienced a significant increase in migrant arrivals are also pushing for more border security, though they’re simultaneously advocating for more funding and improved coordination to better absorb newcomers.

“It’s up to Congress to fix our nation’s broken immigration system,” Avi Small, a spokesperson for New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), said in a statement. “We need a comprehensive, balanced approach that includes expanding Temporary Protected Status, increased border security and a national decompression strategy.”

Meanwhile, a group of more progressive senators, led by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-California), warned that “using a one-time spending package to enact these unrelated permanent policy changes sets a dangerous precedent” and “any proposal considering permanent changes to our asylum and immigration system needs to include a clear path to legalization for long-standing undocumented immigrants.” 

They also expressed concerns that the negotiations seemed to include “harmful changes to our asylum system that will potentially deny lifesaving humanitarian protection for vulnerable people, including children, and fail to deliver any meaningful improvement to the situation at the border.”

“We cannot truly secure our border and help American communities without increasing lawful pathways for migration and legalizing long-time undocumented immigrants who put food on our tables, care for our elderly, and form the fabric of our communities,” the senators said in a statement. 

But Republican negotiators have made clear that they’re not interested in overarching immigration reforms or most targeted sweeteners as part of the package — not even a long-term solution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, which enjoys overwhelming public support

“You come to me and tell me we have to have DACA and a path to citizenship in this bill, it will be the last discussion you have with me on border security,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina). “This is not about immigration. This is about fixing a disaster that even Biden knows, if he doesn’t make progress, there’s going to be electoral consequences next year.”

Migrants Face Tough Conditions in ‘Open-Air Detention’ Camps Along California-Mexico Border 

In Jacumba Hot Springs, a small border community outside of San Diego, migrants from around the world are being held in makeshift “open-air detention” (OAD) camps while they await processing by United States border officials.  

The camps are not official Border Patrol facilities. But a senior authority with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) told the Los Angeles Times that the site has become “a sort of informal holding spot,” as Border Patrol struggles to expeditiously respond to the number of migrants arriving in southeastern San Diego county.

Migrants are told to wait there until they can be transferred elsewhere, which can take days. As they camp in the desert, they’re given the “bare minimum” from U.S. agents, such as water — while volunteers who are providing the bulk of on-the-ground aid are running out of food and tents even as the nights grow increasingly frigid.

“Among ourselves, we huddle together, we bundle up, we figure out a way to stay warm because the night is difficult,” Colombian asylum seeker Yazmín Calderon told The Guardian

These challenges come even as migration to the U.S.-Mexico border becomes increasingly global, with more than 24,000 Chinese citizens apprehended in the last year, according to the New York Times. In Jacumba Hot Springs, organizations are asking the federal government to step up its humanitarian aid instead of handing off its responsibilities to local volunteers like them. 

Programs that were already providing life-sustaining support along the border are now involved in providing life-sustaining support in OADs,” said Jacqueline Arellano, the director of US programs for Border Kindness. “We’re so incredibly strained, and someone’s going to die.”

For more on how to help, reach out to Al Otro Lado and Border Kindness

Easier H-1B Visa Renewals Coming to the U.S. as Soon as January Through Pilot Program

On November 28, Bloomberg Law reported that the Biden administration will allow around 20,000 H-1B holders to partake in a stateside visa renewal pilot starting as soon as January, so they no longer have to risk long wait times outside the U.S. that disrupt their lives and their employers’ workforce. 

More details are expected in a Federal Register notice next month, but the pilot will reportedly let some H-1B holders mail their visas directly to the State Department for renewal, instead of them traveling abroad for consular appointments. 

The State Department is also hoping to continue its use of interview waivers to more quickly process certain visas.

Jennie Murray, President and CEO of the National Immigration Forum, congratulated the department “for taking these commonsense steps to make visa processing more efficient.”

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

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

Please follow this link to find new relevant bills, as well as proposed legislation from past weeks. This week, we also wanted to note the movement of one bill in the House:

H.R. 5283

Protecting our Communities from Failure to Secure the Border Act of 2023

This bill would prohibit the use of federal funding to provide housing to certain noncitizens on any land that is a part of the administrative jurisdiction of federal land management agencies, such as the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Forest Service.

Sponsored by Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-New York) (16 cosponsors– 16 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

08/25/2023 Introduced in the House by Rep. Nicole Malliotakis

08/25/2023 Referred to the House Committees on Natural Resources and Agriculture

11/30/2023 Passed the House of Representatives with a 224-203 vote

11/30/2023 Received in the U.S. Senate

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate is expected to be in session from Monday, December 4, through Friday, December 8, 2023.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to be in session from Monday, December 4, through Thursday, December 7, 2023.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

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

Hearing: “Protecting our Preparedness: Assessing the Impact of the Border Crisis on Emergency Management”

Date: Tuesday, December 5, 2023, at 10:00 am (House Homeland Security Committee)

Location: 310 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Witnesses: TBA

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

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. 

U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO); Federal Workforce: Data Reveal Minor Demographic Changes 2011-2021; Published November 17, 2023

This GAO report provides an overview of the demographic composition of the federal workforce.

Congressional Research Service (CRS); Nonimmigrant Overstays: Overview and Policy Issues; Published November 21, 2023

This CRS report highlights that 42% of the approximately 11 million unauthorized population living in the United States entered the country legally but overstayed their period of admission. 

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

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: 

American Dream Employment Act: Bill Summary

This bill summary explores the American Dream Employment Act of 2023, which would allow Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients to work in the U.S. Congress.

Explainer: What Are Safe Mobility Offices?

Read this explainer for information about what we know so far on how SMOs are being implemented in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Colombia, and who may qualify to participate. 

The Reasons Behind the Increased Migration from Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua

This paper explores the reasons behind the increased migration from Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. While irregular migration from these three countries ruled by autocratic governments is not new, the situation has worsened in recent years. Commonalities include domestic political crises, weakening economies, Covid-19, natural disasters, and strict U.S.-led economic sanctions. Facing precarious conditions and the threat of political persecution, a growing number of people from these nations have opted to seek safety in the United States.

* * *

*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 avillarreal@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.

Learn More

Read more about Legislative Bulletin — Friday, November 10, 2023

Legislative Bulletin

Legislative Bulletin — Friday, November 10, 2023

Read more about Legislative Bulletin — Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Legislative Bulletin

Legislative Bulletin — Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Read more about Legislative Bulletin — Friday, March 1, 2024

Legislative Bulletin

Legislative Bulletin — Friday, March 1, 2024