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Legislative Bulletin — Friday, January 27, 2023



H.R. 469

To require asylum officers at United States embassies and consulates to conduct credible fear screenings before aliens seeking asylum may be permitted to enter the United States to apply for asylum.

Sponsored by Representative Kevin Hern (R-Oklahoma) (0 cosponsors)

01/24/2023 Introduced in the House by Representative Hern

01/24/2023 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary


The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, January 30, 2023.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, January 30, through Thursday, February 2, 2023.


Hearing: The Biden Border Crisis: Part I

Date: Wednesday, February 1, 2023, at 10:00 am E.T. (House Committee on the Judiciary)

Location: 2141 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Witnesses: TBD



December Border Encounters Reach Monthly Record

On January 20, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported that the agency encountered 251,487 migrants at the Southwest border during the month of December – a new monthly record. December numbers mark a 7% increase from November’s total of 233,740 encounters.

Notably, the use of Title 42 declined in December even as overall encounters increased. Less than 20% of all December encounters were returned under Title 42, the lowest proportion of expulsions since the policy began almost three years ago. Instead, over 80% of arrivals were processed under traditional Title 8 proceedings and allowed to pursue asylum claims. An increasing number of these individuals (28,363) were processed at ports of entry.

Arrivals from the Northern Triangle and Mexico declined 12% in December, while arrivals from Nicaragua, Cuba, and Colombia increased 12% in the same period. Arrivals from Cuba (44,064) and Nicaragua (35,940) were particularly significant, each at their highest monthly total in recent history. Migrant arrivals from Venezuela held steady at 13,000. December data also showed sustained increases from Peru (11,590 encounters) and Ecuador (16,297 encounters).

The data represent arrivals before the Biden administration’s recently announced border policy initiatives, which include expelling arrivals from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Haiti under Title 42 and a newly expanded — but still limited — parole program for nationals of those same countries. Since the announcement of the policies, multiple reports have noted significant declines in border arrivals.

U.S. Immigration Court Backlog Surpassed 2 Million Cases

On January 16, a Syracuse University report highlighted that as of December 2022, the U.S. immigration court backlog reached 2,056,328 cases— the largest backlog on record. The report also shows that immigration courts, which fall under the Department of Justice (DOJ), have been increasingly overburdened over the years as more cases are added to the docket than can be addressed. According to the report, 2022 marked the seventeenth consecutive year of case backlog increases, and it marked a 6% increase compared to December 2021.

In addition to the immigration court backlog, the Biden administration is also facing a record-high backlog of almost 9 million pending cases before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and approximately 377,953 immigrant visa applicants are currently waiting for an interview at U.S. consulates.

Biden Administration Expands Use of the Application for Asylum Seekers at the Border Despite Concerns

On January 5, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced new measures to streamline the process by which arriving migrants request humanitarian protections at ports of entry along the Southwest border. Among the new measures, an increasing number of asylum seekers are being asked to use an online mobile app, called CBP One, to be pre-screened and make appointments for a date and location where they can enter the U.S. and begin their asylum request process. The app also is being used for a limited number of people in Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela with sponsors in the U.S. to begin the process of getting paroled into the country for two years.

According to a January 19 Reuters report, the app repeatedly reached capacity and began blocking efforts to set up appointments. In other cases, the available appointments on the app were too far from where the asylum seekers were located. Immigration advocates have raised concerns about the app’s lack of accessibility to all applicants. Accessing CBP One – which is only available in English and Spanish – requires a smartphone, access to Wi-Fi, and the ability to navigate a complicated verification process.

Biden Administration Extends and Expands DED for Certain Hong Kong Residents

On January 26, President Biden extended and expanded Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED) for certain Hong Kong residents. The two-year extension will allow people from Hong Kong residing in the United States under a grant of DED to stay and work temporarily in the country. President Biden also expanded the DED grant to people of Hong Kong who arrived in the United States subsequent to the initial grant of DED. President Biden said the extension of DED was justified in light of the ongoing “erosion of rights and freedoms” in Hong Kong.

DED is a temporary, discretionary, administrative stay of removal granted to immigrants from a few designated countries. Unlike TPS, a DED designation emanates from the President’s constitutional powers to conduct foreign relations and has no statutory basis.


Texas Leads Lawsuit Against Parole Program for Haitians, Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans

On January 24, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton led a coalition of 20 Republican-led states in suing the Biden administration to block its use of a new parole program that would legally admit up to 30,000 Haitians, Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans per month.

President Joe Biden announced the program in early January as a safer, more orderly alternative for people fleeing instability and violence in the hemisphere to come to the United States. The initiative allows prospective migrants with financial sponsors in the U.S. to apply for and receive two-year grants of parole, which offer entry into the U.S. (via air travel), protection from deportation, and access to work authorization. The program is an expansion of a Venezuela-only program that launched in October. As of January 27, over 7,500 migrants have been approved to come to the U.S. under the newly expanded program.

In the lawsuit, Texas argued that the parole program was issued in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, alleging the administration “unlawfully failed to engage in notice-and-comment rulemaking.” It also argued that the program “is not for urgent humanitarian reasons and advances no significant public benefit” as required by law. The U.S. has used humanitarian parole to welcome groups of vulnerable migrants for decades. There were no similar lawsuits filed when the Biden administration utilized similar authorities to provide parole protections to Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion.

“These expanded border enforcement measures are working,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said. “It is incomprehensible that some states who stand to benefit from these highly effective enforcement measures are seeking to block them and cause more irregular migration at our southern border.”

Relatedly, on January 26, a bicameral group of nearly 80 lawmakers sent a letter to President Biden urging him to reverse his administration’s expansion of Title 42 for Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Haiti. The lawmakers also encouraged the President and his administration to work with Congress to ensure they develop safe, humane, and orderly border policies that enforce our immigration laws and uphold the right to asylum under domestic and international law.

DHS Reaches Settlement Agreement to Process EAD of H-4 and L-2 Spouses Concurrently

On January 20, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reached a settlement agreement to process the employment authorization documents (EADs) of H-4 and L-2 visa holders concurrently with the EAD applications of their spouses or parents when filed together. The H-4 is a temporary visa for the spouses and unmarried children of individuals in one of the nonimmigrant visa categories: H-1B (workers in a specialty occupation), H-2A (temporary or seasonal agricultural workers), H-2B (temporary non-agricultural workers), H-3 (nonimmigrant trainees, other than medical or academic). Similarly, the L-2 is a nonimmigrant visa issued to dependents of L1 visa holders (temporary intracompany transferees).

The settlement stems from the case Edakunni v. Mayorkas where plaintiffs demanded to restore the pre-Trump era concurrent processing methodology. Before the settlement – which took effect on January 25 – it took up to two years for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process applications for the spouses of the primary H and L visa holders who needed work authorization.

State & Local

Vermont Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Noncitizen Voting Exclusively for Municipal Elections in the State

On January 20, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing noncitizens who reside in Montpelier, the state’s capital, to vote in local elections. The case stems from a 2018 referendum where Montpelier residents voted to expand the right of suffrage to documented noncitizens in municipal elections. Noncitizens, however, would still be restricted from participating in federal and state elections. The state legislature approved the change to Montepelier’s charter in 2021, but Governor Phil Scott (R-Vermont) vetoed the measure. The Legislature then overturned the governor’s veto that same year.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) challenged the law in 2021. In April 2022, a Washington County Superior Court judge rejected the RNC’s arguments that noncitizen voting violated Vermont’s Constitution. The State Supreme Court decision upheld that ruling.

Currently, eleven municipalities in Maryland and two in Vermont already grant noncitizens some municipal voting rights. Additionally, in San Francisco and Chicago, noncitizens can vote in school board elections. Other municipalities in California, Maine, and Massachusetts are weighing similar legislation.


Congressional Budget Office (CBO); The Demographic Outlook: 2023 to 2053; January 24, 2023

This CBO report highlights that the U.S. population growth will be driven entirely by immigration within two decades. The demographic projections show a population of 373 million by 2053 — about 3 million more than the CBO was expecting a year ago. The new projection is based on an increase in the forecast for immigration in 2023 and the following two years, after pandemic travel restrictions eased — adding some 1 million to the population over that period. Still, by 2042 deaths in the existing population are expected to exceed births, meaning only immigration will expand the population.

Congressional Research Service (CRS); U.S. Refugee Admissions Program; January 20, 2023

This CRS report provides an overview of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. A refugee is a person who is outside his or her country and unable or unwilling to return because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The annual number of refugee admissions and their allocation are set by the President after consultation with Congress. For FY2023, the refugee ceiling is 125,000. The DHS Secretary has discretionary authority to admit refugees to the United States. After one year in refugee status in the United States, refugees are required to apply to adjust to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.


What’s happening at the U.S.-Mexico border?

This resource provides a breakdown of the latest border-related headlines, including the expansion of Title 42, the Biden administration’s new border plan, and shelters reaching maximum capacity.

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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