Legislative Bulletin — Friday, January 7, 2022

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
GOVERNMENT REPORTS
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

 

S. 3407

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.

Sponsored by Senator James E. Risch (R-Idaho) (9 cosponsors — 9  Republicans, 0 Democrats)

12/15/2021 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Risch

12/15/2021 Referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

S. 3436

Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Implementation Act

The bill would prohibit the issuance of any type of visas to individuals engaged in the planning, construction, or operation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Sponsored by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) (1 cosponsor— 1  Republican, 0 Democrats)

12/18/2021 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Cruz

12/18/2021 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under general orders

H.R. 6212

Taiwan Preclearance Act

The bill would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to submit a report to Congress on the feasibility and advisability of establishing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Preclearance facilities in Taiwan. CBP preclearance facilities are located in foreign airports to inspect travelers prior to boarding U.S.-bound flights. This is a companion bill of S. 3312.

Sponsored by Representative Kat Cammack (R-Florida) (18 cosponsors— 14 Republicans, 4 Democrats)

12/09/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Cammack

12/09/2021 Referred to the House Committees on Homeland Security and Ways and Means

H.R. 6223

Border Agents Stay Employed (BASE) Act

The bill would prohibit the use of federal funds to require any officer or employee of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

Sponsored by Representative Tony Gonzalez (R-Texas) (23 cosponsors— 23 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

12/09/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Gonzalez

12/09/2021 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security

H.R. 6237

No Foreign Adversaries Residing in our Communities Act (FARC) Act

The bill would prohibit the issuance of any type of visas to any member or leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Sponsored by Representative Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Florida) (14 cosponsors— 14 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

12/09/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Salazar

12/09/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 6250

Protecting America’s Meatpacking Workers Act of 2021

The bill would require the Comptroller General of the United States to submit a report to Congress on racial and ethnic disparities in the meat and poultry processing sector. The report shall contain the psychological and physical impacts of the industry on noncitizen workers, among others.

Sponsored by Representative Ro Khanna (D-California) (3 cosponsors— 3 Democrats, 0 Republicans)

12/13/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Khanna

12/13/2021 Referred to the House Committees on Agriculture, Education and Labor, Oversight and Reform, House Administration, and the Judiciary

H.R. 6264

Protect Our Law enforcement with Immigration Control and Enforcement (POLICE) Act of 2021

The bill would make assaulting a police officer a deportable offense.

Sponsored by Representative Andrew R. Garbarino (R-New York) (16 cosponsors— 16 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

12/16/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Garbarino

12/16/2021 Referred to the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and the Judiciary

H.R. 6319

Falun Gong Protection Act

The bill would prohibit the issuance of any type of visas to individuals engaged in forced organ harvesting within the People’s Republic of China.

Sponsored by Representative Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania) (0 cosponsors)

12/16/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Perry

12/16/2021 Referred to the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and the Judiciary

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, January 10, 2022.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, January 10, through Thursday, January 13, 2022.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

There are no immigration-related hearings scheduled for the week of Monday, January 10, 2022.

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Legal

Biden Administration Asks Supreme Court to Allow End of MPP

On December 29, the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to consider its bid to end the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), commonly known as the Remain in Mexico Program. The Department of Justice filed the petition after the Fifth Circuit rejected its appeal to allow an end to the MPP on December 14.

Soon after taking office, the Biden administration stopped enrollment in MPP and it officially terminated the program in June 2020. However, on August 13, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the termination of MPP violated the APA. Hence, in compliance with court orders, the Biden administration resumed the implementation of MPP on December 6. The renewed program, which began in the El Paso sector, requires migrants seeking asylum along the southwest border to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are adjudicated, a process that can take years. On January 3, MPP resumed in San Diego, which became the second port of entry along the border where the program has been reimplemented.

On January 3, the United Nations International Organization for Migration reported that more than 200 migrants had been sent back to Mexico under the reinstated program. Out of those migrants, 36 had their immigration hearings in Texas on January 3. All of the migrants returned were single adults, the majority from Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba.

On December 22, West Virginia filed a lawsuit against the exceptions to the renewed MPP program which include, among others, older migrants, migrants with medical conditions, and those at risk of harm in Mexico due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.  The suit alleges that exceptions “go beyond the statutory authority of DHS and drastically undermine the reimplementation of the MPP program.”

Even if the Supreme Court takes up the case for its upcoming docket, it is unlikely to rule on it until at least June 2022. Even then, the case may be remanded back to a lower court. MPP is likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future.

Federal

US Shelters Received a Record 122,000 Unaccompanied Migrant Children in 2021

On December 23, a CBS report highlighted that in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shelter system received 122,000 migrant children who were taken into U.S. custody without their parents, an all-time high. In FY 2016 and FY 2019, when the previous records were set, HHS received 59,000 and 69,000 unaccompanied migrant children, respectively. According to the report, the high numbers were fueled by the unprecedented arrival of 147,000 unaccompanied children to the U.S.-Mexico border in FY 2021, which ended in October.

While arrivals have declined since a peak this summer, officials processed nearly 14,000 migrant minors traveling without parents in November, the highest tally for any November in history. “We urge the government to do some deep soul searching and learn from past mistakes — especially around the need for more foster homes for immigrant children,” said Leecia Welch, a lawyer representing migrant children in a federal court case, emphasizing the need for faster vetting of sponsors and expanded shelter capacity.

Biden Administration Will Make Available an Additional 20,000 H-2B Visas for FY 2022

On December 20, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) announced the forthcoming publication of a joint temporary final rule to make available an additional 20,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for fiscal year (FY) 2022. These visas will be set aside for U.S. employers seeking to employ additional workers on or before March 31, 2022. Of the 20,000 visas, 13,500 will be available to returning H-2B workers, and 6,500 will be reserved for nationals of Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, regardless of whether they are H-2B returning workers.

The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire noncitizens to perform nonagricultural temporary labor or services in the United States. Employers seeking H-2B workers must certify there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work for which they seek a prospective foreign worker. In addition, they must certify that employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

In the announcement of the policy, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas stated that “additional H-2B visas will help to fuel our Nation’s historic economic recovery.” Secretary Mayorkas also said that DHS will seek to implement policies that will make the H-2B program even more responsive to the needs of our economy while protecting the rights of both U.S. and noncitizen workers.

ICE Announces Use of Body Worn Cameras in New Pilot Program

On December 21, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced a pilot program where ICE law enforcement officers will begin to wear body-worn cameras for at-large arrests, execution of search warrants, and questioning of individuals encountered in the field. According to ICE, body-worn cameras are expected to increase the transparency of ICE in communities, as footage may be used in assessments of police conduct, including in instances where force was used. At least for now, the cameras will not be used during immigration enforcement raids.

CBP previously launched a body-worn camera pilot program for thousands of officers along the U.S.-Mexico border in August 2021, drawing support from advocacy groups.

Nominations and Personnel

President Biden Renews Nomination of Sheriff Ed Gonzalez to Lead ICE

On January 4, President Biden renewed the nomination of Sheriff Ed Gonzalez of Harris County, Texas, to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Sheriff Gonzalez was nominated back in April 2021, but his nomination did not make it to the Senate floor before the end of the congressional session in which he was nominated. According to Senate rules, the president has to resubmit the nomination for consideration in the new session, which started on January 3.

On August 4, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs voted 7-6, along party lines, to favorably report Sheriff Ed Gonzalez’s nomination to serve as the next ICE director. However, the Senate floor did not vote on his nomination. In his July 15 confirmation hearing, Sheriff Gonzalez pledged to uphold the highest principles of law enforcement. He stressed that “the American dream relies upon the rule of law and a functioning legal immigration system.”

Ed Gonzalez—a grandson of immigrants—is a co-chair of the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force (LEITF), and his nomination has received praise from fellow law enforcement leaders, among others.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Congressional Research Service (CRS): EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa; December 16, 2021

This report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides an overview of the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program. The EB-5 visa provides lawful permanent residence to foreign nationals who invest $1,800,000 or more, or $900,000 or more in a rural area in the United States and create or preserve at least ten jobs. Approximately 10,000 visas are allotted annually to immigrant investors and their family members.

Congressional Research Service (CRS): U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Authorities and Procedures; December 20, 2021

This legal sidebar from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides a brief overview of USCIS’s authorities and procedures to adjudicate immigration benefits applications, including the adjudication of immigrant visa petitions, applications to adjust to LPR status, asylum applications, petitions for naturalization, and employment authorization applications.

Congressional Research Service (CRS): Migrant Smuggling: Background and Selected Issues; December 20, 2021

This report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides an overview of the global patterns, challenges, and motivating factors of migrant smuggling.

Congressional Research Service (CRS): Immigration: Apprehensions and Expulsions at the Southwest Border; December 22, 2021

This report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides an overview of the apprehensions and expulsions at the southwest border during Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. In FY2021, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recorded 1,659,206 border enforcement encounters with foreign nationals, the highest number in the agency’s history. About two-thirds (1,063,285; 64%) involved single adults. The remainder included individuals in family units (451,087; 27%) and unaccompanied children (144,834; 9%).

Department of Homeland Security – Office of the Inspector General (OIG): Continued Reliance on Manual Processing Slowed USCIS’ Benefits Delivery during the COVID-19 Pandemic, December 28, 2021

This report from DHS OIG highlights that USCIS’ primary operational challenge is its continued reliance on paper files to process and deliver immigration benefits. USCIS had limited capability to electronically process more than 80 types of benefits, which require some manual workflows and paper files to complete cases. These challenges further increased processing times and resulted in a backlog of 3.8 million cases as of May 2021.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): FY 2021 Accomplishments; December 16, 2021

This report from USCIS highlights the agency’s accomplishments in Fiscal Year 2021. Among the achievements, USCIS highlights that it welcomed 855,000 new U.S. citizens, completed approximately 39,000 affirmative asylum cases, created the Family Reunification Task Force to help reunify families separated by the prior administration’s Zero-Tolerance, reinstituted and expanded the Central American Minors Refugee and Parole Program (CAM), and set up temporary field offices and mobile biometrics processing stations in eight federally approved facilities to process arriving Afghan nationals and family members who assisted the United States in Afghanistan.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Body Cameras and CBP: Promoting Security, Transparency, and Accountability at Our Nation’s Border

This report examines the benefits of requiring body-worn cameras for all CBP agents and officers, as well as the privacy concerns for the public, agents, and officers related to implementing body cameras. It also addresses the barriers to the implementation of body-worn cameras at CBP. It concludes that the benefits of body-worn cameras to CBP and the public greatly outweigh any of the potential drawbacks.

Explainer: Humanitarian Parole and the Afghan Evacuation

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.

Explainer: DHS Immigration Enforcement Guidelines

This is an explainer on the new DHS immigration enforcement priorities issued on September 30. The new guidance provides flexibility to DHS personnel, who are advised to balance aggravating and mitigating factors when making enforcement determinations.

* * *

*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 acastellanos@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.

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