Legislative Bulletin — Friday, December 10, 2021

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. 3275

Sudan Democracy Act

The bill would revoke and prohibit the issuance of any type of visas to individuals engaged in actions that undermine the transition to democracy or threaten the peace, security, and stability of Sudan.

Sponsored by Senator Christopher Cloons (D-Deleware) (0 cosponsors)

11/29/2021 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Cloons

11/29/2021 Referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

S. 3312

To analyze the impacts of establishing U.S. Customs and Border Protection Preclearance facilities in Taiwan and in other Indo-Pacific countries

Sponsored by Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) (6 cosponsors— 6 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

12/02/2021 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Hawley

12/02/2021 Referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

S. 3329

To reauthorize the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Donations Acceptance Program

Sponsored by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) (2 cosponsors— 2 Democrats, 0 Republicans)

12/07/2021 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Cornyn

12/07/2021 Referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

H.R. 6095

Lebanon TPS Act of 2021

The bill would protect Lebanese nationals currently residing in the United States from deportation by granting them Temporary Protected Status (TPS) amid Lebanon’s ongoing humanitarian, political and financial crisis.

Sponsored by Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) (11 cosponsors— 11 Democrats, 0 Republicans)

11/30/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Tlaib

11/30/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on the Budget

H.R. 6120

Securing American Families from Exploitation at the Border Act (SAFE Border Act)

The bill would transfer $75 million of unobligated border construction funds that have gone unused by the Biden Administration to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to establish a Southern Border Landowner Security Grant Program. This grant program would provide compensation to landowners who have experienced property damage, theft, or other losses caused by undocumented migrants near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sponsored by Representative Stephanie Bice (R-Oklahoma) (11 cosponsors— 11 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

12/02/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Bice

12/02/2021 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security and the Committee on Appropriations

H.R. 6198

To increase support for Afghan special immigrant visa and refugee applicants

Sponsored by Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan) (0 cosponsors)

12/08/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Slotkin

12/08/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Foreign Affairs

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, December 13, 2021.

The U.S. House of Representatives will not be in session the week of Monday, December 13, 2021.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

There are no immigration-related hearings scheduled for the week of Monday, December 13, 2021.

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Details Released About Biden Administration’s Efforts to Reunite Migrant Families Separated Under Trump

On December 6, an Axios report revealed that the Biden administration’s Family Reunification Task Force has so far reunited 63 families separated under former President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy. The Task Force has identified the locations of 221 additional migrant children that were separated from their parents between 2017 and 2021 and it is moving to reunite them. According to the report, the identification of migrant children was achieved thanks to a website — set up by the task force — where separated families can sign up for reunification. Despite this progress, these numbers represent only a small fraction of the at least 1,443 children who remain separated from their families.

The zero-tolerance policy, which was met with widespread criticism from members of Congress, faith groups, and the general public, resulted in the separation of more than 3,900 children from their parents in 2018. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has 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.” Several reports indicate the administration is engaged in negotiations involving a potential settlement.

Biden Administration Indicates it Will Deny Humanitarian Parole to Afghans Left Behind

According to a December 6 Axios report, the U.S. has begun issuing denials to vulnerable Afghans hoping to access protection in the United States through the humanitarian parole process. The report indicates the administration is adopting an unusually strict standard for assessing the claims, which have skyrocketed since Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in August.

Humanitarian parole is a discretionary authority that allows eligible individuals entry into the United States without an official visa and provides temporary protection from deportation. It is reserved for those with an urgent humanitarian need, including those in harms way due to generalized violence. However, the standard used to adjudicate recent Afghan parole applications appears to require “documentation from a third-party source specifically naming the beneficiary, and outlining the serious harm they face.” Advocates and immigration lawyers fear this standard of documentation will be impossible to meet for most at-risk Afghans.

The administration previously used a special parole program to protect and resettle tens of thousands of at-risk Afghans during a two-week airlift following the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, but it did not extend that program to those left behind in the country hoping to escape. Instead, Afghans left behind — including many who may have worked for or on behalf of U.S. efforts — were forced to apply through the general humanitarian parole process. This process costs $575 dollars per individual and requires applicants to escape to a third country to undergo thorough screening and background checks.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) department responsible for adjudicating the claims typically receives 2,000 parole requests a year. This year it has already received over 30,000, as other avenues for protection like refugee status or the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process are severely backlogged or inaccessible.

DHS Officials Advised Against Deportations of Haitians Fearing Violation of Human Rights

On December 6, a Buzzfeed report revealed that an internal memo from the DHS’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties warned Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials that deporting Haitians risked violating U.S. human rights obligations. According to the August 31 memo, Haiti’s violence, political instability, and the recent earthquake had the potential to increase risks to deportees. Hence, deporting Haitians would violate the international principle of non-refoulement.

Despite the concerns raised in the memo, the Biden administration has deported over 11,200 Haitians since September on over 80 deportation flights. Most of the Haitians have been deported under the continued use of the Title 42 public health authority, which the Biden administration has used to deport hundreds of thousands of migrants without providing them access to immigration court proceedings or to seek asylum under U.S. law.

Legal

Biden Administration Recognizes Immigration Judges Union

On December 7, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reached an agreement to recertify the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), a union that represents more than 500 immigration judges in the country. As part of the agreement, the NAIJ agreed to withdraw complaints against the DOJ alleging unfair labor practices. The agreement was reached more than two years after the Trump administration rescinded NAIJ’s certification, claiming that its members were “management officials” who made policy and therefore not eligible to form a union.

Judge Mimi Tsankov, president of the union, expressed her satisfaction with the agreement and stated that “NAIJ has represented immigration judges for 42 years and with this settlement, we can continue to negotiate collective bargaining agreements for and to be a voice for those who adjudicate immigration decisions now and into the future.”

Nominations and Personnel

Senate Confirms Chief Chris Magnus as U.S. Customs and Border Head

On December 7, the Senate confirmed Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus as commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on a 50-47 vote. The Senate voted largely along party lines, with Senators Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) as the two Republicans to support his confirmation. Senators James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) were not present for the vote.

Magnus’s confirmation received plaudits from U.S. law enforcement and national security officials. Chelsea Police Chief Bryan Kyes stated that “Chief Magnus has been a longtime advocate for fair and humane immigration policies. He understands the importance of community trust and cooperation to ensure public safety and will bring this perspective to Customs and Border Protection.” The Council on National Security and Immigration (CNSI), a coalition of national security leaders, issued a statement praising the Senate for moving forward with the confirmation.

Among other duties as CBP Commissioner, Chief Magnus will be in charge of protecting U.S. borders, managing and processing arriving migrants and asylum seekers, and securing the initial transfer of unaccompanied minors from Border Patrol stations to the Department of Health and Human Services.

State & Local

South Portland, Maine, Elects First Somali-American Mayor in the U.S.

On December 6, Deqa Dhalac — a Somali-American woman who fled civil war in Mogadishu 31 years ago — made history as she became the first Somali-American Mayor in the United States. South Portland’s city councilors elected her in a unanimous vote, praising Dhalac for her dedication to the community and thoughtful consideration of issues. Dhalac says her election shows what can be accomplished when people find ways to connect with each other instead of putting up walls. She stated that she hopes her election as mayor will inspire others to follow in her footsteps. “I’m really proud of the fact that I’m going to be opening a lot of paths for other folks who look like me,” Dhalac said.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP): Report on Internal Investigations and Employee Accountability: Fiscal Year 2020; December 4, 2021

This CBP report describes the process of internal investigations for cases of corruption and misconduct within CBP’s workforce. It provides key statistics on the intake, investigative activity, and discipline taken against CBP employees for the period between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020. According to the report, 201 CBP agents and officials were arrested for misconduct in fiscal year 2020. Less than 2% of those complaints resulted in agents being removed from their posts and less than 4% lost their jobs.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Explainer: Humanitarian Parole and the Afghan Evacuation

This resource explains what parole is, describes the eligibility requirements and vetting procedures currently in place for Afghan parolees, and discusses what benefits parolees receive when they arrive in the US The explainer also discusses the options available for those at risk who have been left behind in Afghanistan, as humanitarian parole can also be accessed by those who are able to escape on their own to third countries.

Explainer: Budget Reconciliation and Immigration Reform

This resource explains the elements, rules, and history of the budget reconciliation process. Congressional Democrats are expected to try to use reconciliation to avoid a Senate filibuster and pass immigration reforms with a simple majority.

Explainer: What’s Happening at the U.S.-Mexico Border

This regularly updated explainer breaks down what is happening at the U.S.-Mexico border, analyzing CBP data on recent apprehensions, describing the impact and use of Title 42 expulsions as well as the treatment of arriving UACs, and providing additional context on reports of increased migration to the U.S. and releases of migrant families into the interior. The explainer also includes a Facebook live discussion covering recent developments at the border.

* * *

*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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