BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
Veteran Service Recognition Act of 2022
The bill would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Defense to implement a program that allows noncitizen service members to file for naturalization during basic training or as early as otherwise possible. The bill would also direct DHS to establish a Military Family Immigration Advisory Committee, which would review the cases of noncitizen veterans and active-duty service members in removal proceedings and provide recommendations as to whether prosecutorial discretion is warranted or whether the removal proceedings should continue. The bill would also provide an opportunity for noncitizen veterans who have been removed or ordered removed and who have not been convicted of serious crimes to apply for and obtain legal permanent resident status in the U.S.
Sponsored by Representative Mark Takano (D-California) (36 cosponsors— 36 Democrats, 0 Republicans)
06/03/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Takano
06/03/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Veterans’ Affairs, Armed Services, and the Judiciary
12/06/2022 Passed the House of Representatives by a 220-208 vote.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Behavioral Health Act
The bill would require U.S. Customs and Border Protection to hire behavioral health providers and create a comprehensive behavioral health program for the agency’s staff.
Sponsored by Representative Elise Stefanik (R-New York) (12 cosponsors— 12 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
12/01/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Stefanik
12/01/2022 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security
Customs and Border Protection Crisis Hardship and Incentive Pay Act of 2022
The bill would provide a $250 biweekly hardship incentive payment to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.
Sponsored by Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) (2 cosponsors— 2 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
12/02/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Crenshaw
12/02/2022 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security
Working for Immigrant Safety and Empowerment (WISE) Act
The bill would increase the protections for immigrant victims of abuse. Among various other provisions, the bill would lift the U visa and Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) caps, prevent detention and deportation of immigrant survivors with pending immigration cases, and ensure immigrant survivors with pending cases are eligible for critical federal public benefits, and no longer subject to the five-year bar.
Sponsored by Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) (21 cosponsors— 21 Democrats, 0 Republicans)
12/08/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Jayapal
12/08/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Ways and Means, Agriculture, Education and Labor, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, and the Judiciary
Protecting Family Caregivers from Discrimination Act of 2022
Among various other provisions, the bill would forbid employers to threaten employees who lack immigration status with the prospect of reporting them to immigration authorities as a form of retaliation.
Sponsored by Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) (0 cosponsors)
11/29/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Booker
11/29/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Holding Accountable Russian Mercenaries (HARM) Act
Among various other provisions, the bill would deny the issuance of visas to members of the Russian-based PMC Wagner Group, suspected of crimes against humanity in Ukraine, Mali, and the Central African Republic. This is a companion bill of H.R. 9381.
Sponsored by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) (1 cosponsor— 1 Democrat, 0 Republicans)
12/01/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Wicker
12/01/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Energy Security and Lightering Independence Act of 2022
The bill would allow foreign nationals passing in transit through the United States to board a vessel or aircraft on which they will perform ship-to-ship liquid cargo transfer operations for a period not to exceed 180 days.
Sponsored by Senator Alex Padilla (D-California) (1 cosponsor— 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)
12/01/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Padilla
12/01/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, December 12, 2022.
The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, December 12, through Thursday, December 15, 2022.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
Bipartisan Framework on Dreamers and Border Security Takes Shape in the Senate
On December 5, several sources reported an agreement between Senator Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Arizona) on a framework for a draft bill on significant immigration and border policy reforms. While the final text of the agreement remains under negotiations as of December 9, several reports noted that it would provide a pathway to citizenship for over 2 million Dreamers (undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children), and allocate billions of dollars for increased border security.
Among the several provisions reportedly included in the blueprint, the framework would temporarily extend Title 42, a pandemic-era order set to end on December 21 that has been used to rapidly expel arriving millions of arriving migrants without providing them the opportunity to seek asylum. The bill would also allocate between $25 and $40 billion in border security funding, including a pay raise for Border Patrol agents and additional resources for Office of Field Operations (OFO) officers. The the bill would provide access to a path to citizenship for approximately 2.3 million Dreamers, including current DACA recipients whose status remains imperiled by ongoing litigation.
If Senators Tillis and Sinema introduce the framework as a standalone legislation, it would require significant bipartisan support and at least 60 votes to avoid a filibuster and pass the upper chamber. Congress is expecting to remain in session until at least December 23 as negotiations continue around several year-end priorities. On December 9, Senator Sinema announced that she had left the Democratic party and registered as an independent.
Faith leaders, national security experts, immigration advocates, and many others expressed encouragement at the news of ongoing negotiations and compromise on immigration issues. The announcement of the negotiations came only a few days after a poll showed that 73% of overall voters, including 70% of self-identified conservatives, support Republicans and Democrats working together on immigration reforms that strengthen border security, allow immigrants brought to the United States as children to earn citizenship, and ensure a legal, reliable workforce for America’s farmers and ranchers.
Bill for Deported Veterans and Noncitizen Servicemembers Passes House of Representatives
On December 6, the House of Representatives passed the Veteran Service Recognition Act of 2022. The bill – approved after a 220-208 vote – would assist certain deported veterans in returning to the U.S. if they have not committed serious crimes. The bill would also make it easier for current noncitizen servicemembers and veterans to naturalize, and create a committee to review the cases of noncitizen veterans and active-duty service members who are removal proceedings and provide recommendations as to whether discretion is warranted.
The bill, endorsed by the White House, still needs to be approved by the Senate to become law. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania), Maria Salazar (R-Florida), and Mike Kinzinger (R-Illinois) joined Democratic lawmakers in voting for the bill on the House floor.
According to recent data, over 700,000 foreign-born veterans live in the United States, out of which 94,000 do not have U.S. citizenship. Unfortunately, many of those noncitizen veterans face deportation. While the numbers of removal proceedings are not clear, a 2019 Government Accountability Office report found that 250 noncitizen veterans were under deportation threat between 2013 and 2018 — 92 of them were ultimately deported. In addition, it is estimated that as many as 2,000 veterans have been deported over time.
Recent estimations suggest that there are about 45,000 immigrants actively serving in the military. To join the U.S. military, noncitizens must be permanent residents (green card holders), have permission to work in the United States, have obtained a high school diploma, and speak English. The Biden administration has begun efforts to help a small number of deported veterans and their families.
US Resettles Just 2,193 Refugees in Second Month of FY 2023, Far Below Resettlement Goals
Refugee resettlement data released by the State Department on December 5 revealed that the administration resettled 2,193 refugees in November, the second month of Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. This number represents a 1.8% increase from the 2,154 refugees resettled in October as resettlement trends remain far below the needed levels to reach the Biden Administration’s stated goals.
With the first two months of the fiscal year in the books, the Biden Administration is on track to resettle 26,082 refugees total in FY 2023 — almost the same as last year and a far cry from the ceiling which President Biden again set at 125,000 in September. The U.S. would now need to resettle over 12,000 refugees a month to meet that target. While the administration has shared some progress regarding an increase in refugee interviews and further investment in the program, this has not yet impacted actual resettlement totals.
In addition, the Biden administration pledged in June to resettle 20,000 refugees from the Americas during Fiscal Years 2023 and 2024. However, with just 351 total refugees resettled from the region in November, the U.S. is on track to resettle fewer than 10,000 total from the region over the next two years — less than half of the administration’s commitment.
Among the nationalities that were resettled, refugees from the Congo continued leading the list at 414, despite a decline from the previous month. Significant upticks from Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, and Ethiopia kept overall resettlement from Africa relatively level. The U.S. has also seen robust resettlement from Burma with 366 refugees resettled in November, representing the second highest origin country overall. Meanwhile, refugee resettlement from Afghanistan declined 54% to just 169 in November. Recent reports of an emphasis on rapid Afghan refugee processing has not yet materialized.
The number of Afghan arrivals with Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) declined to 864 arrivals in November from 996 in October, far below peaks of over 3,000 during the 2021 evacuation and over 2,000 just a few months ago. The SIV pathway remains limited for many Afghans here and abroad, one reason many immigration advocates and veterans continue pressuring Congress to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act.
Biden Administration Extends and Redesignates Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
On December 5, the Biden Administration announced the extension and redesignation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The 18-month extension, effective February 4, 2023, will allow over 56,000 Haitian TPS holders to retain their status through August 3, 2024. It also extends the protection to Haitian nationals residing in the United States as of November 6, 2022.
In the announcement, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said that the renewal of TPS for Haiti was appropriate in light of the difficult conditions in the country, including socioeconomic challenges, political instability, gang violence, crime, and environmental disasters.
TPS is granted by DHS to eligible foreign-born individuals who are unable to return home safely due to violence or other circumstances in their home country.
Biden Administration Appeals Court Decision that Ordered to Lift Title 42
On December 7, the Biden administration announced it would be appealing a November 15 District Court ruling that required the end of Title 42 by December 21. 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. Over 2.4 million people have been expelled under Title 42 since the pandemic began.
In the appeal, the Biden administration argues that the use of Title 42 was a lawful use of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) authority. However, the appeal does not ask the court to reconsider CDC’s previous determination (made in March 2021) that Title 42 no longer serves a public health rationale. The appeal is not designed to prevent the end of Title 42 on December 21, but rather to ensure that the authority may be used in future instances at the border.
The case, Huisha-Huisha v. Mayorkas, stems from a lawsuit spearheaded by ACLU against the Trump administration in 2020 over Title 42 expulsions. After hitting an impasse in negotiations with the Biden administration, the plaintiffs went back to court in July 2021 to seek an immediate termination of the policy.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); USCIS Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Progress Report; December 7, 2022
This USCIS report highlights the activities of the agency during Fiscal Year 2022. The agency reports naturalizing 1,023,200 new U.S. citizens, using all the available employment-based immigrant visas (275,111), extending the EAD validity period for over 400,000 noncitizens, and expanding the number of supplemental H-2B visas to 64,716 for 2023. The report also highlights that USCIS helped Afghan evacuees by interviewing over 6,250 refugee applicants from Afghanistan, completing over 92,000 EAD applications, almost 2,500 Adjustment of Status applications, over 2,700 asylum applications, over 15,000 Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) petitions, and over 7,000 family-based immigrant petitions as of mid-November 2022.
Congressional Research Service (CRS); FEMA Assistance: Limited English Proficiency and Equity; December 5, 2022
This CRS report highlights that individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP) often encounter barriers to federal relief and disproportionate risk during hazards. Among the main challenges, individuals with LEP may not understand evacuation notices or instructions, raising the risk of casualty; may not understand emergency relief providers, impeding access to emergency medical care, sheltering assistance, and key relief commodities; and may not be able to access federal aid applications, written guidance, and oral instructions, deterring or delaying their requests for relief or yielding insufficient awards.
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES
This paper creates an actionable border security framework based on the best and most appropriate available metrics and data. It surveys previous and ongoing attempts to describe and quantify border security, and it proposes a series of policy recommendations to create a healthier dialogue around securing our border, including an expanded role for the DHS Office of Immigration Statistics and the creation and publication of new border metrics.
This resource provides 42 sustainable, effective border solutions that are not Title 42. The 42 solutions are broken up into three categories — border processes, root causes, and border security.
This fact sheet provides an overview of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA is a deferred action policy implemented by the Obama administration in June 2012. It is aimed at protecting qualifying young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, temporarily shielding them from deportation and providing them with work authorization.
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*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Arturo Castellanos-Canales, National Immigration Forum Senior Policy and Advocacy Associate, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Arturo can be reached at email@example.com. Thank you.