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Legislative Bulletin – Friday, July 13, 2018

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. Res. 572

This resolution supports the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and personnel.

Sponsored by Senator John Kennedy (R – Louisiana) (30 cosponsors – 30 Republicans)

07/11/2018 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Kennedy

07/11/2018 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

H. R. 6361

Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act

This bill would establish a Commission tasked with establishing a humane immigration enforcement system and terminate Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Sponsored by Representative Mark Pocan (D – Wisconsin) (8 cosponsors – 8 Democrats)

07/12/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Pocan

07/12/2018 Referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary, Ways and Means, and Homeland Security

H. R. 6363

This bill would amend the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to establish immigration consumer fraud information hotlines and websites, and prepare outreach campaigns on immigration consumer fraud.

Sponsored by Representative Nydia M. Velasquez (D – New York) (11 cosponsors – 11 Democrats)

07/12/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Velasquez

07/12/2018 Referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary and Energy and Commerce

H. R. 6326

Reunite Separated Families Act of 2018

This bill would temporarily restrict the removal of alien parents separated from their children.

Sponsored by Representative Michael E. Capuano (D – Massachusetts) (6 cosponsors – 6 Democrats)

07/10/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Capuano

07/10/2018 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H. R. 6325

Continue American Safety Act (CASA)

This bill would extend the period of temporary protected status (TPS) designation for certain countries.

Sponsored by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D – Texas) (6 cosponsors – 6 Democrats)

07/10/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Jackson Lee

07/10/2018 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H. R. 6318

Zero Tolerance for Illegal Entry Act

This bill would amend section 275(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to make crossing the U.S. border without proper immigration documents a felony rather than misdemeanor.

Sponsored by Representative Diane Black (R – Tennessee) (0 cosponsors)

07/10/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Black

07/10/2018 Referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary, Education and the Workforce, Ways and Means, and Appropriations

H. Res. 990

This resolution supports the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and personnel.

Sponsored by Representative Clay Higgins (R – Louisiana) (55 cosponsors – 55 Republicans)

07/11/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Higgins

07/11/2018 Referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary, Ways and Means, Homeland Security, and Armed Services

H. Res. 987

This resolution would condemn the Attorney General’s decision in “Matter of A-B-” seeking to declare domestic violence and gang violence as invalid grounds for seeking asylum.

Sponsored by Representative Jan Schakowsky (D – Illinois) (81 cosponsors – 81 Democrats)

07/11/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Schakowsky

07/11/2018 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, July 16, 2018.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, July 16, 2018 through Thursday, July 19, 2018.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

There are no immigration or skills and workforce related hearings and markups scheduled for the week of Monday, July 16, 2018.

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

57 Young Children Reunited with Families after Trump Administration Fails to Meet Deadline

On July 12, the Trump administration said it reunited 57 of 103 young children under five years old who had been separated from their families in recent months. The announcement came two days after the administration failed to meet a court-imposed July 10 deadline to reunite all immigrant children under age of five with their family members. The administration stated that it has reunited all children under five years old that were eligible to be reunited, but maintains that the remaining 46 young children are “ineligible” for reunification, because they parents have already been deported, because the parents cannot be located, or that federal agencies could not ensure that the parents would provide a safe environment for the children, including cases in which the parent had a prior criminal record.

The plaintiff American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which sued the administration over the separations, pushed back against the government’s contentions and complained that the government failed to provide required notice of reunifications so that it could ensure that the reunified families had needed legal and support services.

A June 26 federal court ruling by Judge Dana Sabraw had previously barred family separations going forward and required the administration to reunite families that had already been separated. The order gave the Trump administration until July 10 to comply with his preliminary injunction requiring children under 5 to be reunited with their parents and until July 26 in cases involving older children.

Previously, Judge Sabraw expedited federal procedures that the plaintiffs contended were creating unnecessary backlogs in the reunification process, including limiting the use of DNA testing and putting needed safeguards in place.

The administration now must meet another deadline on July 26 for the reunification of 3,000 or more children over the age of five, who were also separated at the border. In an attempt to address some of the obstacles in the reunification process, officials have suggested several measures demanding more transparency from the administration. For example, one of the proposals would set August 1 as the deadline for Department of Health and Human Services to submit plan to locate and reunify all children who have been separated from their families at the border. Other proposals include measure to override the Flores settlement agreement and permit the long-term detention of children with their parents in family detention.

Agencies Issue Guidance Limiting Asylum for Victims of Domestic Violence and Gangs

On July 11, USCIS and ICE issued new guidance regarding refugee and asylum claims, making it increasingly difficult for migrants to obtain relief. The two memos, which instruct those agencies’ officers to categorically deny claims of those escaping domestic violence or gangs, come after attorney general Jeff Sessions’ June 11 opinion limiting the availability of asylum in the U.S. to such individuals.

The new guidance instructs officers to weigh illegal entry against migrant’s claim of asylum, making it exceedingly difficult for bona fide asylum seekers who enter between ports of entry to obtain relief. The guidance also instructs agents to interview migrants and reject any credible fear claims that do not align with the new standards, preventing asylum seekers with valid claims from receiving a chance to be heard by an immigration judge. With higher thresholds, it is likely the new guidance will allow for rejection of more asylum applicants.

Critics are concerned this guidance is an attempt to foreclose individuals with legitimate fears of persecution from receiving legal protections to which they are entitled. In June, the Sessions opinion was roundly criticized by legal experts, domestic violence, civil rights, immigration, and refugee organizations and congressional Democrats, who condemned the opinion for reversing existing legal precedent, undermining the due process of asylum seekers, and placing thousands of vulnerable people at risk.

USCIS Issues Policy Guidance that Placing Many Immigrants at Risk of Deportation

On June 28, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released updated policy guidance regarding issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs). Under the new guidance, immigrants will receive an NTA and be placed into removal proceedings if they apply for any modification of status for a visa, green card, or naturalization and are denied. They may also receive an NTA if they are charged with a crime or if they have any association with activity that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) considers to be criminal, regardless of whether they have been arrested or charged for such activity. Previously, NTAs were issued sparingly, usually only where the applicant had a criminal conviction.

Once a non-citizen individual is in removal proceedings, they have the ability to argue their case in immigration court, but are not provided an attorney (they can hire one themselves) and are subject to detention. Critics have stated that this policy change will make “the United States’ already unforgiving system . . . become draconian”. The new guidance expands enforcement priorities to such an extent that they now encompass many immigrants simply “trying to navigate” the immigration system.

Government Seeks to Strip U.S. Citizenship from Grandmother as Trump Administration Pursues Denaturalization Policies

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is suing to denaturalize a 63-year-old grandmother from the Miami area as the Trump administration takes a closer look at stripping naturalized immigrants of U.S. citizenship if they have committed certain offenses before becoming citizens. The Justice Department claims Norma Borgono, a 63-year-old secretary who imigrated from Peru to the U.S. in 1989 and applied for citizenship in 2007, committed fraud by not divulging her minor role in a fraud scheme. As the secretary of an export company, Borgono prepared paperwork for her boss who stole money by using doctored loan applications filed with the U.S. Export-Import bank. Borgono did not make money during the scheme beyond her salary and cooperated with the FBI to put her former boss in jail. She took a plea deal and was sentenced to one year of house arrest but released early. The Justice Department claims Borgono should have divulge her criminal offense in her naturalization application, even though she was not yet charged with the crime when she applied for citizenship.

Borgono’s case comes as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new policy memo in June to step up examinations of cases of possible citizenship and green card fraud. The central focus of the push is to track down individuals who were ordered deported but later gained citizenship or legal residency under a different name. USCIS is also opening an office in Los Angeles and hiring several dozen lawyers and immigration officers to work on these cases. USCIS already hired ten lawyers for this effort.

Although Borgono did not lie about her identity, the case of her denaturalization is built on the argument that she did not disclose a previous crime in her citizenship application. The naturalization applications contain the question, “Have you ever committed, assisted in committing, or attempted to commit, a crime or offense for which you were not arrested?” In Maslenjuk v. United States in 2017, the U.S. government argued that the question could apply for any crime, including driving five miles over the speed limit. The Supreme Court ruled that only “material offenses” needed to be disclosed. The interpretation of the term “material offenses” will have to play out in denaturalization cases around the country.

From 1990 to 2017, the U.S. government pursued 305 denaturalization cases, an average of 11 per year. The U.S. government already pursued 30 denaturalization cases in 2018. USCIS plans to potentially refer an estimated 1,600 more cases based on review of un-digitized fingerprint files.  The U.S. government historically reserved denaturalization for egregious cases.

ICE Data Details Increasingly Indiscriminate Arrests

According to a Huffington Post report examining data from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency is increasingly arresting immigrants who would not have been priorities under past administrations. Rather than focusing on threats to national security or public safety, under the Trump administration, ICE has broadened its focus to encompass most of the undocumented population, including large numbers of those without criminal records.

In addition to showing an increase in indiscriminate arrests of those without criminal records, the report indicates that ICE has been documenting many offenses in a misleading manner. For example, the category “Obstructing Judiciary, Congress, Legislature, Etc.” encompasses offenses such as driving without a license or failing to show up to an immigration court hearing, not obstruction of justice or other serious felonies implied by the category title.

Trump Nominates Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court

On Monday, July 9, President Trump nominated Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to replace retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy on the United States Supreme Court. While serving on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Kavanaugh decided a handful of cases relating to immigration policy.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation is likely to be contentious given Justice Kennedy’s role as the Court’s swing justice.

Legal

Court Rejects Trump Administration’s Request to Alter Flores Agreement

Judge Dolly Gee rejected the Trump administration’s request to alter the 1997 Flores settlement agreement, which puts limits on the length of time immigrant children can be held in detention. The administration asked the court to modify the twenty-year old agreement to give them more flexibility in detaining undocumented parents and children throughout criminal and immigration proceedings. Such change would allow the government to utilize indefinite family detention, as specified in the administration’s recent executive order on family separations. Judge Gee rebuked the Trump administration for the request, calling it calling it “a cynical attempt…to shift responsibility to the Judiciary for over 20 years of Congressional inaction and ill-considered Executive action that have led to the current stalemate.” She further stated that DOJ could detain kids with their families if their parents consented, but implied that without such consent the government must release the children.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department said that DOJ disagreed with the decision, but interpreted it as the court acknowledging that undocumented parents would have to choose between family detention or separation from their children, while the children were placed with a sponsor. Previously in a court filing on June 29, DOJ indicated that it believes it now has the authority to detain families “during the pendency of” their immigration cases, some of which can take months or years to settle, because Judge Dana Sabraw’s order to reunite children with their parents eclipsed with the Flores agreement. Judge Gee did not agree, calling this argument a “tortured interpretation.” Many expect the government to appeal the decision to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

State & Local

Boston Explores Options to Provide Non-Citizens with Voting Right

In an attempt to include residents who have greatly contributed to the state’s economy and society, Boston is reportedly exploring methods of including non-citizen, certain immigrant residents with the ability to vote in its local elections. This would include those with temporary protected status (TPS) and recipients of relief under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The City Council’s Committee on Government Operations ordered a hearing to be held on July 10 to discuss the matter. While there is some government and citizen support for the issue, there is also opposition – the hearing ended without any plans to change the current local law.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO): Border Security and Immigration: Initial Executive Order Actions and Resource Implications, July 12, 2018 (By Rebecca Gambler)

This GAO report is a review of federal agencies’ implementation of the series of President Trump’s executive orders on border security and immigration. Specifically, this report examines actions taken by Departments of Homeland Security, Justice and State and looks at funding the departments have obligated, expended or shifted in order to implement provisions of these executive orders.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Fact Sheet: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

This fact sheet provides an overview of ICE, including its focus on interior immigration enforcement, prioritization, incarceration, and related issues.

Comparison of Family Separation Bills in the U.S. Senate and in the U.S. House of Representatives

These documents provide an overview of the different legislative proposals in the U.S. Senate and in the U.S. House of Representatives to end family detention, including whether the bills would result in the incarceration of families, establish a reunification process for separated children and parents, and modify the Flores Settlement Agreement, among other provisions.

Immigrant as Economic Contributors: Immigrant Entrepreneurs

This paper examines entrepreneurial contributions of immigrants, and the jobs and public benefits secured through immigrant businesses.

* * *

*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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