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Legislative Bulletin — Friday, January 20, 2023



H.R. 163

Security First Act

The bill would appropriate $180 million for the Operation Stonegarden grant program of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through 2027. Operation Stonegarden provides funding to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to enhance their capabilities to support joint efforts to secure U.S. borders.

Sponsored by Representative Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) (2 cosponsors— 2 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

01/09/2023 Introduced in the House by Representative Gonzales

01/09/2023 Referred to the House Committees on Homeland Security and the Judiciary

H.R. 183

To promote accountability and transparency in future executive orders

The bill would require the President of the United States to justify and notify Congress at least 30 days in advance before issuing an executive order related to any policy related to immigration.

Sponsored by Representative Tracey Mann (R-Kansas) (0 cosponsors)

01/09/2023 Introduced in the House by Representative Mann

01/09/2023 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 319

Legal Workforce Act

The bill would require employers to check the work eligibility of all future hires through the E-Verify system. E-Verify, operated by USCIS, checks the social security numbers of newly hired employees against Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security records to help ensure that they are eligible to work in the U.S.

Sponsored by Representative Ken Calvert (R-California) (6 cosponsors— 6 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

01/12/2023 Introduced in the House by Representative Calvert

01/12/2023 Referred to the House Committees on Education and Workforce, Ways and Means, and the Judiciary

H.R. 334

Significant Transnational Criminal Organization Designation Act

The bill would deny the issuance of visas to all members of certain transnational criminal organizations.

Sponsored by Representative Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) (3 cosponsors— 3 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

01/12/2023 Introduced in the House by Representative Gallagher

01/12/2023 Referred to the House Committees on Financial Services and the Judiciary

H.R. 336

To immediately resume construction of the border wall system along the international border between the United States and Mexico to secure the border, enforce the rule of law, and expend appropriated funds as mandated by Congress

Sponsored by Representative Clay Higgins (R-Louisiana) (33 cosponsors— 33 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

01/12/2023 Introduced in the House by Representative Higgins

01/12/2023 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security

H.R. 367

To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act with respect to aliens associated with criminal gangs

Sponsored by Representative Vern Buchanan (R-Florida) (0 cosponsors)

01/12/2023 Introduced in the House by Representative Buchanan

01/12/2023 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary


The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, January 23, 2023.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Tuesday, January 24, through Friday, January 27.


There are no immigration-related hearings scheduled for the week of Monday, January 23, 2023.



Biden Administration Launches New Private Sponsorship Program for Refugees

On January 19, the Department of State announced the creation of Welcome Corps, a new private sponsorship program that allows people in the U.S. to help welcome refugees arriving through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and support their resettlement and integration into the United States. Under the program — reminiscent of a long-standing system in Canada — organizations or groups of at least five individuals will have the opportunity to sponsor refugees if they raise $2,275 per refugee, pass background checks, and submit a plan about how they will assist the newcomers.

Approved private sponsors will assist in resettlement for at least 90 days after a refugee’s arrival, helping newcomers access housing and other basic necessities, such as food, medical services, education, and public benefits for which they qualify. In the first year of Welcome Corps, the Department of State will seek to mobilize 10,000 Americans to step forward as private sponsors to assist in the resettlement of at least 5,000 refugees.

Welcome Corps was launched amid low refugee resettlement numbers in recent years. In all of Fiscal Year 2022, the United States resettled only 25,465 refugees – roughly 80% short of the administration’s FY 2022 ceiling of 125,000. However, the U.S. welcomed over 100,000 humanitarian migrants during FY 2022 via temporary humanitarian parole programs, including those that incorporated a private sponsorship element.

In a press release, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “the Welcome Corps will build on the extraordinary response of the American people over the past year in welcoming our Afghan allies, Ukrainians displaced by war, Venezuelans, and others fleeing violence and oppression. By launching the Welcome Corps, we build on a proud tradition of providing refuge and demonstrate the spirit and generosity of the American people as we commit to welcoming refugees in need of our support.”

Biden Administration Launches Process that Allows Noncitizens to Report Labor Violations Without Fear of Retaliation

On January 13, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new process by which noncitizen workers who witness labor violations can report them without fear of deportation or immigration enforcement consequences. DHS said that the new process would allow noncitizen workers to assert their rights and report violations without fear of immigration-related retaliation via grants of deferred action. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said that “workers are often afraid to report violations of law by exploitative employers or to cooperate in employment and labor standards investigations because they fear removal or other immigration-related retaliation by an abusive employer.”

To apply, migrant workers must show well-documented proof of their employment history and exploitation, including demonstrating why they need DHS support and providing proof of identity. If approved, those cooperating with a labor investigation can legally stay in the country temporarily for two years, subject to termination at any time, and apply for authorization to work during that period. They may also be eligible for subsequent grants of deferred action if a labor agency has a continuing investigative or enforcement interest in the matter identified in their original letter supporting DHS use of prosecutorial discretion.

The latest guidelines build upon an October 2021 memorandum, in which Secretary Mayorkas permitted the agency to consider requests for deferred action protection for migrants supporting labor enforcement investigations.

At Least 600 People from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Haiti Have Been Approved to Come to the US Under Recently Announced Parole Program

A January 13 CBS News report highlighted that at least 600 people from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Haiti had been vetted and approved to come to the United States under the recently announced parole program. The program — launched on January 5 — allows up to 30,000 individuals per month from these four countries to apply to come to the U.S. under parole. Under the new parole program, any individual with lawful status in the U.S. can serve as a sponsor for nationals of these countries as long as they file declarations of financial support for prospective beneficiaries and pass required background checks. The report noted that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has received thousands of applications from prospective sponsors since the January 5 announcement.

The report also noted that according to an anonymous source from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), irregular border crossings have declined since the measures were announced. According to the source, U.S. border agents are averaging 4,000 daily migrant apprehensions, down from a daily average of approximately 7,000 in November 2022.

Irregular travel by sea, however, has not diminished. On January 12, the US Coast Guard intercepted 177 Cuban migrants and returned them to their nation. The coastguard says that since October 1, it has intercepted and returned more than 4,900 Cubans at sea, compared with about 6,100 in the 12 months to September 30. In that regard, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas stressed that “Cubans and Haitians who take to the sea and land on U.S. soil will be ineligible for the parole process and will be placed in removal proceedings.” He also warned that “irregular maritime migration aboard unseaworthy or overloaded vessels is always dangerous, and often deadly.”

The U.S. and Mexico Sign Memorandums of Understanding on Labor Mobility and Protection of Migrant Children

On January 18, Mexico and the United States signed two memoranda of understanding (MOUs) on labor mobility and protection of unaccompanied minors in a situation of mobility. The MOUs are the result of a conversation last week between President Biden and Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

The first MOU, titled Labor Mobility and Protection of Participants in Temporary Foreign Worker Programs, is designed to strengthen the labor rights of Mexican workers in the United States. In it, the two governments committed to strengthening their joint efforts to 1. Ensure ethical recruitment of Mexican nonimmigrant workers with H2 visas; 2. Collaborate to protect their wages and working conditions; and 3. Further facilitate the availability of H-2A visas for Mexicans. In addition, this MOU includes quarterly meetings to prevent, monitor, and report violations of labor rights, such as fraud, abuse, and discrimination, and to stop measures that companies can take against those who file complaints for rights violations.

The stated goal of the second MOU on unaccompanied minors in a situation of mobility is to create bilateral mechanisms that strengthen the protection mechanisms of migrant children by Mexican and U.S. authorities. The goal is further to avoid contact between unaccompanied minors and criminal human trafficking and smuggling networks. Due to the transnational nature of migration, the MOU also seeks to assist other countries of the region in promoting international cooperation as part of their policies of protection for minors.

US Secretary of Labor Declares that America Needs Immigrants to Tackle Labor Shortage

On January 18 — during the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland — U.S. Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh stressed that the United States needs immigrants to tackle the labor shortage. He said that “a lack of workers is the biggest threat to the U.S. economy in the long term and immigration is key to addressing the shortfall.” Secretary Walsh added that students from around the world come to America to get educated but risk being sent back home if they fail to secure a work visa. “There are jobs available right now in the U.S. that we don’t have enough people for,” he said. “The threat to the American economy long-term is not inflation, it’s immigration,” he said. “It’s not having enough workers.”

Secretary Walsh’s remarks come amid a severe labor shortage in the United States. In the last fifteen months, job vacancies have consistently surpassed 10 million while the number of hires averages only 6 million. In other words, there are only 60 workers available for every 100 job openings. Moreover, in the U.S., there are nearly two job openings for each unemployed worker.

State & Local

NYC Mayor Travels to El Paso and Washington, DC, Calls on Federal Government to Aid Cities Dealing with Migrants Arrivals

On January 14, New York City Mayor Eric Adams traveled to El Paso, Texas, where he pledged to form a coalition of mayors addressing the increase of asylum seekers coming to their cities. According to Mayor Adams, the increase in migrants has strained resources in destination cities. According to his estimations, New York City is on track to spend over $2 billion dollars on services for asylum seekers through June, up from the $366 million that his government spent last year.

On January 18, Mayor Adams traveled to Washington, DC to participate at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, where he asked for more funding to help settle the more than 40,000 newcomers that have arrived in New York City since the spring. He also called for the federal government to implement policy changes, including faster work permits for asylum seekers and a pathway to citizenship for immigrants. On January 18 he also authored an Op-ed published by the Washington Post where he proposed six steps to tackle challenges connected to the increase of asylum seekers.


Congressional Research Service (CRS); Afghan Eligibility for Selected Benefits Based on Immigration Status: In Brief; January 18, 2023

This CRS report outlines Afghan nationals’ eligibility for select public benefits depending on whether they are refugees, asylees, special immigrants, parolees, TPS, or DED.


Explainer: Private Sponsorship Programs for Refugees

This explainer describes the elements and history of private sponsorship initiatives for refugees. It also describes the success cases of the Canadian and Australian private sponsorship models.

Alternative Pathways for Arrivals at the Border

The paper seeks to put the challenges we face at the southwest border in the broader context of growing displacement in the hemisphere, describing how many come to the border because there is no other real alternative — no “right way” to come.

Journey to the U.S. Southern Border

This interactive resource will allow you to experience a virtual journey where you’ll face the challenges a migrant family could encounter when making the journey to the U.S. – and consider what choices you would make.

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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 Thank you.

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