Legislative Bulletin – Friday, January 25, 2019



H.R. 268

Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2019

This bill would provide appropriations for all U.S. government agencies and reopen the federal government. S.Amdt. 5 is a Trump administration-backed amendment to H.R. 268 that seeks to reopen the federal government and offer temporary protections for Dreamers and recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in exchange for $5.7 billion in funding to build a steel barrier system along parts of the Southern border. S. Amdt.6 is a perfecting amendment backed by Senate Democrats that does not include the additional border wall funding or other add-ons.

Sponsored by Representative Nita Lowey (D – New York) (0 cosponsors)

1/8/2019 Introduced in the House by Representative Lowey

1/8/2019 Referred to the House Committees on the Appropriations and on the Budget

1/16/2019 Passed the House in 237 – 187

1/24/2019 Considered by the Senate

1/24/2019 Cloture on S.Amdt.5 was not invoked: 50-47

1/24/2019 Cloture on S.Amdt.6 was not invoked: 52-44


The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, January 28, 2019.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, January 28, 2019, through Wednesday, January 30, 2019.


Department of Defense’s Support to the Southern Border

Date: Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at 10 a.m. (House Armed Services Committee Democrats)

Location: 2118 Rayburn House Office Building

Witnesses: TBD



Trump Agrees to Reopen Government for Three Weeks

On January 25, President Trump announced that he had reached a deal with Congress to re-open the government until February 15 to allow negotiations on border security to continue. The announcement came after the Senate on January 24 rejected two separate proposals to reopen the federal government.

Earlier in the week, the White House announced an immigration proposal to end the federal government shutdown. The proposal, based on discussions between Vice President Mike Pence, White House advisor Jared Kushner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), would provide temporary one-time protections for some current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients in exchange for $5.7 billion to build a steel barrier system along the Southern border, changes to asylum law that would make it harder for some individuals to request asylum, and other conditions. On January 24, the Senate rejected the proposal by a 50 to 47 vote largely along party lines, except that Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) voted in favor and Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) opposed the legislation.

That same day, the Senate rejected a separate “clean” proposal that would reopen the federal government until February 8 at the same funding levels as fiscal year (FY) 2018 without any additional immigration provisions. The Senate rejected the second proposal by a 52 to 44 vote, with six Republican Senators (Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah)) joining all Democratic Senators in favor of the legislation.

After the two proposals failed in Senate, Republican and Democratic congressional leaders and the White House reportedly began to immediately discuss a path forward. McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) met to discuss a short-term solution to reopen the federal government.

During his Rose Garden address, President Trump indicated that he was reserving his ability to declare a national emergency to construct physical barriers along the Southern border without congressional authorization in the event Congress cannot come to an agreement to fund barriers along the southern border. The White House reportedly has been preparing a draft proclamation for President Trump to declare a national emergency. The proclamation would identify more than $7 billion in potential funds for constructing a barrier in the U.S.-Mexico border, including $3.6 billion allocated for military construction, $3 billion in Pentagon civil work funds and $681 million from forfeiture funds in the Treasury Department. A declaration of a national emergency to construct a border barrier would likely face legal challenges.

Notably, the President stated that he was no longer interested in a 2,000 foot long wall along the border, but supports a mix of wall, steel fence, and technology to secure the border.

A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll showed 54 percent of voters blame Trump and Republicans in Congress for the government shutdown and about 57 percent disapprove the President’s actions.

Trump Administration to Implement “Remain In Mexico” Policy

The Trump administration stated that on January 25 it would implement a new immigration policy, the “Migration Protection Protocols,” informally known as “Remain in Mexico.” The measure would allow the Trump administration to block asylum seekers from entering the United States through the San Ysidro border crossing near San Diego, requiring them to wait in Mexico while their requests for asylum move forward in the U.S.. The new policy is referred to as “catch and return.” The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has asked the Justice Department to expedite the cases of immigrants waiting in Mexico and officials claimed the return policy won’t apply to unaccompanied children (UACs).

Immigration advocates have opposed the “Remain in Mexico” policy, claiming it violates U.S. and international asylum laws, represents an abdication of U.S. humanitarian leadership, and forces asylum seekers to wait in dangerous regions known for its high murder rates. Immigrant rights groups are expected to challenge the measure in court.

DHS Issues Retaliatory Bans on Temporary Visas for Most Filipino, Dominican, and Ethiopian Workers

On January 18, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a new rule providing for a one-year ban on most Filipino, Dominican, and Ethiopian workers receiving non-immigrant H-2A and H-2B visas. H-2A visas are for temporary agricultural workers and H-2B visas cover other non-agricultural, seasonal, temporary workers. The retaliatory measure is effective from January 19, 2019 to January 18, 2020. DHS characterized the bans as being in response to high rates of visa overstays among Filipino and Dominican workers, and in response to Ethiopia’s refusal to accept some deportees. Ethiopia has previously been deemed “at risk of non-compliance” with DHS’s deportation policies in 2016. Ethiopia no longer holds that designation, but DHS included Ethiopians in the ban citing continued disagreements over accepting deportees.

The status of current H-2A or H-2B visa holders won’t be affected by the new regulation unless they seek an extension of stay or change of status.. Experts warn the measure is likely to adversely impact economy of Guam, an unincorporated U.S. territory, where Filipinos have worked in high numbers for decades. In case of Philippines, both DHS and the Department of State (DOS) also expressed concerns about the high volume of trafficking victims that were originally issued H-2B or H-2A visas, characterizing that the new rule as an effort to lower human trafficking from the country.

Poll: Americans Consider Immigration Top Issue

A Harvard CAPS/Harris poll released on January 22 revealed that 38 percent of American voters consider immigration the most important issue facing the U.S, followed by health care with 36 percent. The findings suggest immigration is likely to play a crucial role in the 2020 election. The poll also showed that while 49 percent of the participants believe U.S. border security is a serious issue, 55 percent of the voters oppose the President Trump’s wall along U.S.-Mexico border.


DACA Likely to Remain in Place for Another Year after Supreme Court Inaction

On January 22, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a federal court ruling that blocked the Trump administration’s plan to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Supreme Court’s inaction almost certainly guarantees that the Court will not rule on DACA in its current term, which ends in June 2019. In declining to review DACA this term and allow pending litigation to continue to proceed through the courts of appeal, DACA will mostly likely be kept in place for at least 10 more months. Absent congressional action to codify DACA, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the legality of the Trump administration’s effort to terminate DACA in the 2019-20 term.

The Trump administration had attempted to end DACA in late 2017, asserting that it was unlawful, but the Ninth Circuit upheld a nationwide injunction from lower court finding the administration’s rationale insufficient and keeping DACA in place. Although DACA litigation is still pending at the appellate level, the Trump administration had been urging the Supreme Court to hear the case on expedited basis, hoping for a quick ruling that would both end DACA and provide the administration with negotiating leverage in the ongoing shutdown talks.

The justices will convene on February 15 to consider petitions for review, but even if they decide to take the case at that time, it would likely not be argued until the 2019-20 term, meaning that a decision would likely not come until 2020.

Trump Administration to Appeal Directly to Supreme Court on Citizenship Question

In a January 22 filing, the Justice Department indicated that the Trump administration plans to directly appeal a New York federal court’s ruling blocking the inclusion of a new citizenship question in the 2020 Census to the U.S. Supreme Court. On January 15, Judge Jesse Furman ruled against the administration in barring the addition of the citizenship question, stating that Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross’ plan to include it was “unlawful.”

In seeking immediate review to meet the late-June deadline for finalizing the 2020 Census questionnaire, the Justice Department is asking the Supreme Court to depart from its standard procedures and hear oral arguments in April or May 2019. Normally the Justice Department would appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rather than directly going to the Supreme Court. It is rare for the Court to take on an issue without a previous decision from a federal appeals court.

State & Local

AZ Governor Allows DACA Holders to Receive Driver’s Licenses

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is allowing all deferred action recipients to obtain a state ID The policy that anyone with a DHS Employment Authorization Card is eligible to receive a license to drive a car went into effect on January 23.

Ducey decided to settle the suit instead of continuing to appeal U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell’s ruling in 2018 that required Arizona to issue driver’s licenses to all individuals the federal government has allowed to remain in the U.S. The case is a by-product of a lawsuit against the state, following the then-Governor Jan Brewer’s decision to prevent DACA holders from receiving driver’s licenses.


There were no immigration-related government reports published during the week of Monday, January 21, 2019.


Trump – McConnell Immigration Proposal: Bill Summary

This is a summary of a proposal to reopen the federal government and offer protections for Dreamers and recipients of Temporary Protected Status in exchange for funding to build a steel barrier system along parts of the Southern border. The proposal was a product of discussions between Vice President Mike Pence, White House advisor Jared Kushner, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – Kentucky).

Fact Sheet: U.S. Asylum Process

This fact sheet provides background on the U.S. asylum process.

Map To Success: Identifying Job Opportunities and Career Pathways

The National Immigration Forum’s Map to Success is an interactive tool, providing immigrants and other workers with information on select career paths in the U.S. The map lists jobs with the greatest shortages in states with large immigrant populations, highlighting occupations with potential for career advancement.

* * *

*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Zuzana Cepla, National Immigration Forum Policy and Advocacy Associate, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Zuzana can be reached at zcepla@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.

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