BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
Stop Shackling and Detaining Pregnant Women Act
This bill seeks to ensure humane treatment of pregnant women by reinstating the presumption of release and prohibiting shackling, restraining, and other inhumane treatment of pregnant detainees.
Sponsored by Senator Patty Murray (D – Washington) (23 cosponsors – 23 Democrats)
07/17/2018 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Murray
07/17/2018 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Canadian Snowbirds Act
This bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to authorize admission of Canadian retirees as long-term visitors for pleasure.
Sponsored by Senator Bill Nelson (D – Florida) (1 cosponsors – 1 Republican)
07/12/2018 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Nelson
07/12/2018 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Border Zone Reasonableness Restoration Act
This bill would provide oversight of the border zone in which Federal agents may conduct vehicle checkpoints and stops and enter private land without a warrant, and to make technical corrections.
Sponsored by Representative Peter Welch (D – Vermont) (5 cosponsors – 5 Democrats)
07/19/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Welch
07/19/2018 Referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary, and Homeland Security
AG and Legal Workforce Act
This bill would create a nonimmigrant H-2C work visa program for agricultural workers and make mandatory and permanent requirements relating to use of an electronic employment eligibility verification system (E-Verify).
Sponsored by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R – Virginia) (52 cosponsors – 52 Republicans)
07/18/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Goodlatte
07/18/2018 Referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary, Education and the Workforce, Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce
Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2019
This bill makes appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs, including those related to refugees, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019.
Sponsored by Representative Hal Rogers (R – Kentucky) (0 cosponsors)
07/16/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Rogers
07/16/2018 The House Committee on Appropriations reported an original measure H. Rept. 115-829
07/16/2018 Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 642.
This resolution supports the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and personnel.
Sponsored by Representative Clay Higgins (R – Louisiana) (74 cosponsors – 74 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
07/18/2018 Passed/agreed to in House as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: 244 – 35, 133 Present (Roll no. 337 – 2/3 required)
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, July 23, 2018.
The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, July 23, 2018 through Thursday, July 26, 2018.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
Date: Tuesday, July 24, 2018 at 2 p.m. (House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security)
Location: House Capitol Visitor Center (HVC) Room 210
Date: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at 10 a.m. (House Appropriations Committee)
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
Trump Administration Reunites Some Families Amid Increasing Concerns About Family Detention
The Trump administration stated on July 19 that it has reunited 364 children ages five and older with their families after they were separated at the border, but still has to reunite more than 2,000 children before the July 26 deadline imposed by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw’s court order. Of the more than 2,500 parents identified as eligible as having their children returned to them, 848 have been interviewed and cleared for reunification. Of the others, 229 parents have been deemed ineligible because they waived reunification or because they had a criminal record. The rest are pending.
At the same time, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has reportedly spent at least $40 million just in the past two months to care and reunify children separated from their families at the border, including housing costs estimated at about $1.5 million a day. The department has even dipped into nearly $200 million in funds that were transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the final days of the Obama administration, including $17 million in unspent funds from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program. HHS was also preparing to shift an additional $263 million in June into ORR, but the request was never sent amid scrutiny over HHS’ spending. Internal ORR documents note that the agency could face a budget shortfall of $585 million in fiscal year (FY) 2018.
Meanwhile, two government medical consultants wrote a letter to the Senate’s Whistleblower Protection Caucus identifying a “high risk of harm” to migrant children housed at family detention centers. The doctors, who are “subject-matter experts” for the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) office, said that a series of 10 investigations on family detention centers over the past four years “frequently revealed serious compliance issues resulting in harm to children.” The doctors said they had “watched in horror” as migrant children were separated from their families and fear that the “likely alternative – detention of children with a parent – also poses high risk of harm to children and their families.” The examinations described in their report uncovered problems including a child who lost a third of his body weight in the detention center and an infant with bleeding of the brain that went undiagnosed for five days. In the meantime, news outlets have reported a number of cases of kids being bullied, left hungry and cold in the immigration facilities, as well as infants and toddlers younger than 3 years old being ordered to appear at the court alone.
Further, on Monday, July 16, four members of the Homeland Security Advisory Council resigned in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kristjen Nielsen due to the administration’s practice of family separation they consider to be “morally repugnant.” Specifically, they expressed frustration stemming from lack of consultations with the council members before implementation of the practice.
House Approves Resolution Supporting ICE, Democrats Block Its Companion in Senate
On Wednesday, July 18, the U.S. House passed a resolution supporting Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and denouncing calls to abolish the agency. The resolution was introduced by Representative Clay Higgins (R-Louisiana) to convey support for ICE personnel because the officers have been critical to defending the United States’ national security interests. The resolution was in response to calls to abolish ICE, . The resolution passed in a 244-35 vote, with 133 Democrats voting present, which is treated the same as not voting, 34 No, and 18 Yes.
On the same day, Senator John Kennedy’s (R-Louisiana) companion resolution in the Senate was blocked by Democrats. Senator Jeff Daines (R- Montana) requested unanimous consent to pass the resolution, but Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) objected and instead asked for consent to pass Senator Kamala Harris’ (D-California) bill advocating to “reunite families separated at or near ports of entry”. Daines objected to Merkley’s request.
U.S. Army Overturns Discharge of Brazilian Immigrant Recruit
On June 16, the U.S. Army decided to reverse its decision to discharge Lucas Calixto – a Brazilian immigrant who has been serving the U.S. military for the past two years and enlisted in the Army under the MAVNI program.
This past June, Calixto filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army after receiving notification of his discharge without explanation or a chance to defend his case in court. Reports claim Calixto is one of the many immigrants receiving discharge and canceled contracts over the past months.
Critics of the Department of Defense’s actions believe discharging immigrant recruits could compromise the national interest because of the military’s need to enlist individuals with special language and medical skills.
DHS Secretary Nielson Extends TPS for Currently Protected Somalis
On July 19, DHS announced extension of the Temporary Protected Status for Somalia. DHS Secretary Kristjen Neilson decided to extend the designation for 18 months as the country faces an ongoing civil war and other extraordinary conditions. However, since the Secretary extended but not re-designated the Somali TPS, the decision applies only to the approximately 500 current Somali TPS holders, who have been in the U.S. continuously since 2012. Somalis who arrived in the U.S. later will not be eligible for the status. Current beneficiaries will be allowed to re-register for extension of their status and work authorization through March 17, 2020. Critics highlighted the Trump administration’s acknowledgement that Somalia is an unsafe place but expressed concerns over the decision to not re-designate the country for TPS, preventing more individuals from applying.
While the Trump administration extended the designation for Somalia, media revealed that it previously ended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for six mostly Central American countries despite reported warnings from DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A). In November 2017, a DHS/I&A report warned the administration that cutting those protections of certain immigrants would spike undocumented immigration, as TPS recipients are likely to overstay visas after termination of the status
Over 190 Countries Sign Global Compact for Safe Migration After U.S. Withdrawal
On July 13, over 190 countries agreed to join the United Nations’ (UN) Global Compact for Safety, Orderly and Regular Migration that aims to “eliminate unsafe, disorderly migration.” The United States didnot agree to the compact. The Compact is not legally binding, but General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak believes that it will “change the way the world looks at the migration,” similarly to how the UN goals for 2030 have motivated countries around to world to address poverty, development, and environmental issues. The Compact is expected to be formally adopted on December 11-12, 2018.
Federal Judge Rules to Temporarily Stop Deportations of Reunited Families
Federal Judge Dana Sabraw, who is supervising reunification of migrant parents and children, granted the reunified families a temporary week-long cessation of deportation, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked for time to allow reunified families who may be forced to make a difficult choice between being deported with their children or leaving them in the U.S. to pursue their asylum claim alone to make that decision.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) criticized the ruling, claiming there may not be enough room in detention facilities if the government cannot deport reunited families immediately. Judge Sabraw was unsympathetic to the concern, stating that the government “will have to make space.” DOJ will have one week until Monday, July 23, to file a response to the ACLU’s concerns. At that time, Judge Sabraw will decide whether or not he will permanently require a week between reunification of families and their deportation. Judge Sabraw asked the government to complete identification of children and parents who were separated and verification of parents in ICE custody by Thursday, July 19, and is scheduled to hold a status conference on Friday, July 20, in San Diego.
In a separate D.C. case, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman also expressed frustration with the slow family reunification process. On Wednesday, July 18, Judge Friedman ordered the federal government to reunite a 9-year old boy from Guatemala with his mother by Friday at midnight, citing findings from the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding detained immigrant children and their subsequent psychological issues. He also stated that the mother is likely to succeed on her claim that the separation itself was unconstitutional. She filed the suit to be reunified with her child in late June, following their separation in mid-May.
State & Local
Tennessee Immigration Judges Sharply Increase Deportation Orders
Deportation orders from the Memphis Immigration Court, which is run by DOJ, have increased nearly 50 percent since 2016, reportedly due to influence from “factors inside and outside the courtroom”. Most notably, the increase is caused partly by the transition of Judge Vernon Miles from San Antonio in October 2017 to Memphis. Judge Miles has a track record of rejecting 98 percent of asylum applications – one of the highest denial rates in the nation. In total, Memphis judges are on track to order 3,225 deportations in FY 2018 an increase from 2,168 in FY 2016.
Six States Sue Federal Government Over Grant Conditions
On Wednesday, July 18, six states (New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts, and Virginia) and the city of New York filed suit against the federal government in a federal court in New York, claiming the federal government cannot require them to engage in enforcement of immigration policies in exchange for federal grants. In July 2017, the federal government announced a new policy requiring cities receiving certain federal grants to notify immigration authorities prior to releasing undocumented immigrants from jail. The states argue that the DOJ’s conditions on the federal law enforcement grants interfere with the right of states and localities to set their own law enforcement policies and is unconstitutional. The involved states and New York City could lose up to $25 million dollars from grants that support local law enforcement agencies. New York City alone receives $4 million dollars a year. This lawsuit is similar to others already filed throughout the country.
U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO): Border Security and Immigration – Initial Executive Order Actions and Resource Implications, June 12, 2018
This report reviews various agencies’ implementation of three of the Trump administration’s executive orders (13767, 13768, 13780) relating to border security and immigration issued in 2017. GAO specifically focused on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the State Department to see how funds were allocated and time was dedicated to enforcing these orders. The report found that although the agencies were using their base budgets and existing personnel, they will continue to request additional funds for this multi-year process and build upon efforts that have already been executed.
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES
This fact sheet provides an overview of ICE and its role in interior immigration enforcement and incarceration.
This blog discusses automation and its potential impact on the U.S. workforce, particularly immigrants. It asserts that technology can create new benefits and opportunities for both immigrants and native-born workers rather than creating competition between them.
This is paper is the second in a series that puts a spotlight on the economic contributions of immigrants. It examines research showing immigrants are a growing and pivotal part of the U.S. workforce.
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*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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.