BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
Honor Our Commitment Act of 2021
The bill would require the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to facilitate the application processes of Afghan nationals for special immigrant visas (SIVs) and referral to the United States Refugee Admissions Program. The bill would further require the Secretary of State to develop a secure evacuation plan for SIV and P-2 Refugee applicants.
Sponsored by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) (3 cosponsors— 2 Republicans, 1 Democrat)
12/17/2021 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Blumenthal
12/17/2021 Referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
To ensure that State and local law enforcement may cooperate with Federal officials to protect our communities from violent criminals and suspected terrorists who are illegally present in the United States
Sponsored by Senator Patrick Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) (0 cosponsors)
01/10/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Toomey
01/10/2022 Placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar
To prohibit the payment of certain legal settlements to individuals who unlawfully entered the United States
Sponsored by Senator Thomas Tillis (R-North Carolina) (2 cosponsors— 2 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
01/10/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Tillis
01/10/2022 Placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar
To require U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to take into custody certain aliens who have been charged in the United States with a crime that resulted in the death or serious bodily injury of another person
Sponsored by Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) (0 cosponsors)
01/10/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Ernst
01/10/2022 Placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar
To withhold United States contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
Sponsored by Senator James Risch (R-Idaho) (6 cosponsors— 6 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
01/10/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Risch
01/10/2022 Placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar
Guaranteeing Ukrainian Autonomy by Reinforcing its Defense (GUARD) Act of 2021
The bill would prohibit the issuance of any type of visas to corporate officers responsible for the planning, construction, or operation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline or a successor entity. This is a companion bill of S. 3407.
Sponsored by Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas) (16 cosponsors— 16 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
01/10/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative McCaul
01/10/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Foreign Affairs, the Judiciary, and Armed Services, and Rules
To require the Secretary of Homeland Security to notify the Governor of a State prior to the date on which any alien without lawful status under the immigration laws is transported to, housed in, or resettled in such State
Sponsored by Representative Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) (0 cosponsors)
01/12/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Brooks
01/12/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
Date: Thursday, January 20, 2022, at 2:00 pm E.T. (Senate Committee on the Judiciary)
Location: Zoom Video Webinar
Hearing: Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Panama: A New Alliance for Promoting Democracy and Prosperity in the Americas
Date: Thursday, January 20, 2022, at 11:00 am E.T. (House Committee on Foreign Affairs)
Location: Virtually via Cisco WebEx
Mr. Jason Marczak, Senior Director, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center Atlantic Council
Dr. Laura Alfaro, Warren Alpert Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
Mr. Daniel F. Runde, Senior Vice President and Director, Americas Program Center for Strategic and International Studies
Lowest Level of Net International Migration to the US in Decades Impacts Worker Pool
On December 21, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that net international migration (NIM) to the U.S. between 2020 and 2021 added only 247,000 to the nation’s population, the lowest level in decades. That number represents a significant drop from the 2015-2016 peak of 1,049,000 immigrants. This most recent data is also lower than the 477,000 added between 2019 and 2020. The agency’s report further highlights that Florida, Texas, New York, California, and Massachusetts — states which typically gain the most migrants from abroad and comprise about half of all international migration — saw decreases in NIM between 2015 and 2021, including a nearly 50% drop from 2020 to 2021. California experienced the most significant decline of these states, dropping from 148,000 in 2015 to 15,000 in 2021.
Such low immigration levels have added pressure to the widescale worker shortages that the United States is currently undergoing. On January 12, Suzanne Clark, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, stated that to grow the U.S. economy and remain competitive, the U.S. has to implement immigration reforms to increase the workforce. She stressed that the country “must double the number of people legally immigrating to the U.S. and we must create a permanent solution for Dreamers.”
December Refugee and SIV Data Reveal Slight Decline in Admissions
On January 11, the State Department released refugee resettlement data for the month of December. The U.S. resettled 1,227 refugees in the third month of the new fiscal year (FY), a moderate decline from the 1,639 refugees resettled in November. The decrease in November could be partially a result of the Biden administration’s decision to curtail the traditional refugee resettlement program from October 29 through January 11, 2022, to prioritize resettling Afghan evacuees. The current resettlement pace would lead to a total of only 13,072 refugees resettled in all of FY 2022. That number continues to lag far behind the refugee ceiling of 125,000 announced by President Biden in September.
Syrian nationals continue to make up a significant portion of the overall resettled refugees. With 293 Syrian refugees resettled in December, the total number this fiscal year reached 816, more than any other country of origin. The released data also reveals that the U.S. has experienced a sharp uptick in refugees from Central America over the last couple of months, including 146 refugees from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador resettled in December.
The December resettlement data also reveals that just 310 Special Immigrant Visas were granted to Afghans in November, a marginal decrease from 336 in November. These numbers are still far below summer peaks prior to the Kabul evacuation when the administration granted over 3,000 SIVs a month. Those still in Afghanistan have not been provided a path to safety to continue their applications and while many of those evacuated under parole is reportedly eligible for SIVs, very few have been able to complete their applications from within the U.S. Without official SIV or refugee status, evacuated Afghans remain on temporary parole and lack a clear path to permanent residence.
Supreme Court Weighs Whether Detained Immigrants Have a Right to Bond Hearings
On January 11, the Supreme Court heard arguments over whether immigrants who have been detained after attempting to return for a second time to the U.S. without authorization are entitled to bond hearings. The legal question arose in two cases — Johnson vs. Arteaga-Martinez and Garland vs. Gonzalez — in which the Department of Justice (DOJ) asked the Supreme Court to overturn decisions by judges in California and Pennsylvania, who ruled such immigrants deserve a bond hearing if they have detained for more than six months. The judges had argued that some of the detainees feared they would be subjected to violence and torture if sent home, and it could take a year or more to resolve their legal claims. In such cases, they said, the immigrants should have a chance to be released if they are not likely to flee and represent no danger to public safety. The DOJ, however, argued that the law states immigrants in this category are to be held indefinitely until they are deported.
The Trump administration initially appealed in 2020, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the cases last summer. The Biden administration’s DOJ took up the defense of the Trump administration’s position in both cases.
Biden Administration Argues Families Separated at Border Are Not Entitled to Compensation
On January 12, the Department of Justice argued in federal court that immigrant families separated at the border under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy are not entitled to financial damages, and their cases should be dismissed. The DOJ emphasized that the Biden administration does not condone the intentional separation of children from their parents at the border. They argue, however, that the U.S. government has leeway when it comes to managing immigration and is immune from such legal challenges. The Justice Department outlined its position in the government’s first court filings since settlement negotiations broke down in mid-December.
The settlement negotiations had been part of a legal strategy to settle a class-action lawsuit that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed against the U.S. government in 2019, “seeking damages on behalf of thousands of traumatized children and parents who were forcibly torn from each other.” More than 940 claims have been filed to date regarding Trump-era family separation at the border.
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 2017 and 2018. The Trump administration failed to properly keep records of those that were separated. As of the latest progress report of the Family Reunification Task Force released on November 29, more than 1,703 separated migrant children had yet to be reunited with their parents.
RNC Challenges New York City Law that Allows Noncitizens to Vote in Municipal Elections
On January 10, the Republican National Committee (RNC) filed a lawsuit in the Staten Island Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of a recently-passed New York City law that allows noncitizen residents to vote in municipal elections. RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel justified the lawsuit in a statement declaring that “American elections should be decided by American citizens.”
The lawsuit was filed after the New York City Council passed a bill on December 9 that allows more than 800,000 noncitizen New Yorkers to vote in municipal elections and for local ballot initiatives. The right of suffrage for noncitizens, however, is limited under the bill to green card holders and immigrants with valid employment authorization documents who have lived in the city for at least 30 consecurtive days. Noncitizens are still restricted from participating in federal and state elections under the bill, which was signed into law by Mayor Eric Adams on January 9.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Fiscal Year 2020 Entry/Exit Overstay Report; September 30, 2021
This report from U.S. Customs and Border Protection provides data on departures and overstays of foreign visitors to the U.S. in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 (October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2020). The report defines an overstay as a nonimmigrant legally admitted into the United States who has remained in the United States beyond the authorized period of admission. According to the report, CBP recorded 46,195,116 in-scope nonimmigrant admissions to the United States and calculated a total overstay rate of 1.48 percent, or 684,499 individuals who overstayed their admission period.
Congressional Research Service (CRS): Department of Homeland Security Appropriations: FY2022; January 7, 2022
This report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides an overview and analysis of FY2022 funding for DHS.
Government Accountability Office (GAO): Information on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; January 12, 2022
This GAO report highlights that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provided information about 900 cases of denied DACA requests to immigration enforcement agencies between June 2012 and June 2021. The information was shared despite USCIS’s 2012 guidance that highlighted that it would not proactively provide information from denied DACA requests to immigration enforcement agencies.
Department of Homeland Security – Office of the Inspector General (OIG): Medical Processes and Communication Protocols Need Improvement at Irwin County Detention Center, January 3, 2022
This DHS OIG report highlights that the medical processes, policies, and procedures in place at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Ocilla, Georgia, are inappropriate. It also highlights deficiencies regarding the facility’s health assessments, medication administration, sick calls, health records, program administration, emergency care, and women’s health. The report also notes that ICDC did not adequately keep facility employees, ICE staff, and detainees informed of COVID-19 protocols and guidance.
Department of Homeland Security – Office of the Inspector General (OIG): USCIS’ U Visa Program is Not Managed Effectively and is Susceptible to Fraud, January 6, 2022
This DHS OIG report concerns the U visa program, which was created to protect victims and help law enforcement investigate and prosecute serious crimes. The report finds deficiencies in the management of the program and notes that USCIS has not fully addressed U visa program fraud risks. It further states that USCIS has not established quantifiable and measurable performance goals to ensure the U visa program achieves its intended purpose, has not ensured its data systems accurately capture the number of U visas granted, and has failed to manage the growing backlog of petitions.
Department of Homeland Security – Office of the Inspector General (OIG): Trusted Traveler Revocations for Americans Associated with the 2018-2019 Migrant Caravan, January 8, 2022
This DHS OIG report describes CBP’s revocation of Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) memberships of two U.S. citizens due to their association with the migrant caravan in 2019. The report concludes that CBP’s process for revoking the membership raises concerns that such decisions can be based on inaccurate or unsubstantiated information.
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES
This resource provides information about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. It also describes how DACA recipients strengthen the United States and why Dreamers are still in need of a permanent solution.
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 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.
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*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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.