Legislative Bulletin — Friday, July 23, 2021

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. 2331

Securing the Homeland from International Entrants with Life-threatening Diseases (SHIELD) Act

The bill would codify a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) public health order under Title 42, which requires U.S. border officials to remove undocumented immigrants to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The bill is a companion to H.R. 4416.

Sponsored by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) (10 cosponsors— 10 Republicans, o Democrats)

07/13/2021 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Cruz

07/13/2021 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

S. 2392

Revealing and Explaining Visa Exclusions for Accountability and Legitimacy (REVEAL) Act

The bill would enable the Secretary of State to publish the names of individuals who have been barred from entry into the United States due to human rights abuses and corruption. The bill is a companion to

H.R. 4557.

Sponsored by Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Maryland) (1 cosponsor— 1 Republican, o Democrats)

07/20/2021 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Cardin

07/20/2021 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

S.2443

A bill to expand the definition of H-2A nonimmigrant for purposes of the Immigration and Nationality Act to include aliens engaged in seafood processing, horticultural commodities, or the care of horses.

Sponsored by Senator Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina) (1 cosponsor— 1 Democrat, o Republicans)

07/22/2021 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Graham

07/22/2021 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 4477

Grant Residency for Additional Doctors (GRAD) Act of 2021

The bill would direct the Department of State to establish a dedicated staff position within the department to process J-1 visa applications during times of increased demand. It would also provide training to relevant foreign service and consular officers charged with reviewing these visa applications to recognize the domestic need for such positions and work to eliminate any bureaucratic hurdles to processing.

Sponsored by Representative Grace Meng (D-New York) (2 cosponsors — 1 Republican, 1 Democrat)

07/16/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Meng

07/16/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Foreign Affairs

H.R. 4522

To provide for the admission of certain sons and daughters of citizens of the United States, which citizens served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States abroad

Sponsored by Representative Ron Kind (D-Wisconsin) (1 cosponsor — 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

07/19/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Kind

07/19/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 4562

To sanction the parents and guardians of unaccompanied alien minors

Sponsored by Representative Lance Gooden (R-Texas) (6 cosponsors — 6 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

07/20/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Gooden

07/20/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 4578

To expand the H-2B visa program

Sponsored by Representative Tom Rice (R-South Carolina) (0 cosponsors)

07/20/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Rice

07/20/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 4593

Securing our Border States Act

The bill would establish a block grant program called the “Empowering States to Build the Wall Fund” that would allow border states to continue constructing a barrier along their borders with Mexico. The bill would give direct access to funding to Governors of southwest border states who certify that they want funding for wall construction.

Sponsored by Representative Brian Babin (R-Texas) (16 cosponsors — 16 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

07/21/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Babin

07/21/2021 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security and the Committee on Oversight and Reform

H.R. 4630

To prohibit the use of Federal funds for the airfare of aliens unlawfully present in the United States

Sponsored by Representative Madison Cawthorn (R-North Carolina) (6 cosponsors — 6 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

07/22/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Cawthorn

07/22/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 4643

To prohibit the admission of aliens to the United States for 10 years, and for other purposes.

Sponsored by Representative Paul A. Gosar (R-Arizona) (0 cosponsors)

07/22/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Gosar

07/22/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 4644

To eliminate the Optional Practical Training Program

Sponsored by Representative Paul A. Gosar (R-Arizona) (3 cosponsors — 3 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

07/22/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Gosar

07/22/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 3985

Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act

The bill would expedite the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process for thousands of Afghans who have assisted U.S. efforts and may be under threat as troop withdrawal in the country continues. The bill would also increase the number of SIVs available from 11,000 to 19,000, widen the pool of eligible applicants, and remove certain requirements that impede visa processing.

Sponsored by Representative Jason Crow (D-Colorado) (140 cosponsors — 36 Republicans, 104 Democrats)

06/17/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Crow

06/17/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

07/22/2021 Passed the House by a vote of 407 to 16

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives will be in session the week of Monday, July 26, 2021.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Business meeting to consider the nomination of Ed Gonzalez to be an Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security

Date:  Wednesday, July 28, 2021 at 09:30 am E.T. (Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs)

Location: Dirksen Senate Office Building Room SD-342, Washington, D.C.

Witnesses: TBA

Hearing to examine the nomination of Kenneth Lee Salazar to be Ambassador to Mexico

Date:  Wednesday, July 28, 2021 at 10:00 am E.T. (Senate Committee on Foreign Relations)

Location: G50/VTC Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Witnesses: TBA

DHS’s Efforts to Disrupt Transnational Criminal Organizations in Central America

Date:  Wednesday, July 28, 2021 at 02:00 pm E.T. (House Committee on Homeland Security; Subcommittee on Oversight, Management, and Accountability)

Location: 310 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Witnesses:

Francis J. Russo, Acting Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner, Operations Support, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

John A. Condon, Assistant Director, International Operations, Homeland Security Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Biden Administration Will Appeal DACA Ruling, Urges Congress to Act

On July 17, one day after Judge Hanen ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is illegal, President Joe Biden expressed deep disappointment with the ruling. He announced that the Department of Justice will appeal the decision and that the Department of Homeland Security will issue a proposed rule concerning DACA. He expressed, however, that regardless of the Administration’s efforts, “only Congress can ensure a permanent solution by granting a path to citizenship for Dreamers that will provide the certainty and stability that these young people need and deserve.”

The Department of Justice will appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case that could eventually reach the Supreme Court. In a 2015 ruling on a different, Obama administration deferred action program that would have protected the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (DAPA), the Fifth Circuit affirmed Hanen’s decision to vacate the memorandum which had created the program. In that case, the Supreme Court split along ideological lines, with four conservative justices ruling against DAPA and four liberal justices arguing in favor. Two conservative justices have joined the Court since then.

On July 22, Vice President Kamala Harris met with eleven DACA recipients to reiterate the Administration’s promise to keep fighting for a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. In the meeting, Vice President Harris told the Dreamers that, “We recognize you for the Americans that you are, and you deserve all the rights that come with American citizenship… This is your home. We see you, and you are not alone.”

DACA is a policy that for nine years has provided protection from deportation and work authorization to over 650,000 unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.

Legislation to Expedite Visas for Afghan Allies Passes House as Administration Announces More Details on Evacuation of SIV Applicants

On July 22, the House of Representatives voted 407 to 16 to pass legislation that would expedite the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process for thousands of Afghans who have assisted U.S. efforts and may be under threat as troop withdrawal in the country continues. The Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act would increase the number of SIVs available from 11,000 to 19,000, widen the pool of eligible applicants, and remove certain requirements that impede visa processing. Approximately 18,000 applicants—and their families—remain stuck in the SIV backlog, which can take over three years from start to finish.

A few days before, on July 19, the Biden Administration announced plans to relocate 2,500 Afghan SIV applicants to a military base in Virginia as the U.S. moves closer to completing its military drawdown in Afghanistan. In addition to the Afghans headed to Virginia, Qatari officials agreed to allow thousands of SIV applicants to live temporarily at the al-Udeid airbase in Qatar. U.S. officials also stated that diplomatic negotiations had advanced with Kuwait to relocate SIV applicants in that country temporarily.

The relocation plans are part of Operation Allies Refuge, a program designed by the Biden Administration to process SIV visas in a timely and safe manner for applicants who face significant risks in Afghanistan and wish to continue their visa processes elsewhere. A U.S. Department of State representative said that, “these are brave Afghans whose service to the United States has been certified by the embassy in Kabul and who have completed thorough SIV security vetting processes.”

Senate Democrats’ Consider Including Border Security Provisions in Budget Reconciliation Plan

According to a July 22 Axios report, Senate Democrats are considering including provisions related to border security and infrastructure for migrant processing in their budget reconciliation plan. The $3.5 trillion plan, which would allow Democrats and the Biden administration to avoid a Senate filibuster and pass legislation with a simple majority, could include as much as $10 billion for security and infrastructure improvements at land ports of entry and in sectors with high cross-border traffic. Funding is also being considered for additional staff and improved facilities to manage asylum claims at the border and in immigration court.

The border security provisions would be in addition to significant legalization provisions that several Senators have already confirmed are included in the $3.5 trillion outline. On July 16, Senator Bob Menendez said that the current iteration of the outline includes $120 billion for a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, undocumented farmworkers, and other essential workers.

The plan remains in a preliminary stage, the legislative text has not yet been drafted and a bipartisan infrastructure deal that Democratic leadership intended to move in concert with budget reconciliation has hit a number of roadblocks. It is still unclear whether the budget plan itself will garner enough support to move through the Senate, as it would likely need unanimous support from Senate Democrats. Moderate Senators Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) have expressed some concerns about aspects of the proposed outline, although Manchin said he did support the inclusion of immigration reforms in a potential reconciliation package.

Another challenge facing the plan’s proponents is the Byrd Rule, a requirement that budget reconciliation bills must only include provisions that affect government spending or revenues. It remains uncertain whether the Senate Parliamentarian will rule that immigration-related provisions are appropriately related to spending or revenues and will be allowed into a final package.

On the inclusion of border security provisions, Senator Ben Ray Lujan (D-New Mexico), a member of the Senate Budget Committee that was responsible for drafting the budget outline, said that, “I’ve consistently advocated for making smart, modern investments when it comes to border security.” On July 23, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it had cancelled two Trump-era border barrier contracts and called for Congress to instead “fund smarter border security measures.”

Biden Administration Considers Delaying Its Planned Phaseout of Title 42 Border Expulsions

This week, the Biden administration indicated that it might delay its plans to phase out the use of Title 42, a pandemic-era Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rule which allows Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to immediately expel almost everyone arriving at the border, including those seeking humanitarian protection. According to multiple reports, the Administration had been planning to exempt all arriving family units from Title 42 beginning at the end of July, and was considering rolling back the use of Title 42 entirely by the end of the summer. However, the emergence of the COVID-19 delta variant, as well as significant political pressure, are compelling the Administration to rethink lifting the order.

Since October 2020, over 750,000 migrants have been turned away under the Title 42 policy, including the majority of all border arrivals in June. Some immigrant advocates claim that keeping the public health order in place jeopardizes many migrants’ safety, as they are forced to remain in camps across the southern border. The White House has said that it will continue to defer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when deciding whether to lift Title 42. However, the Administration is already exempting all unaccompanied children and most family units from Title 42 expulsions, as well as most of those fleeing from certain countries such as Cuba and Haiti.

Also, on July 21, the Biden administration extended its border restrictions with Canada and Mexico for another month. The US-Canada and US-Mexico borders will remain closed to nonessential travel until August 21, per a recent update from the Administration.

Biden Administration Extends and Redesignates Somalia for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

On July 19, the Biden Administration extended and redesignated Somalia for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The 18-month extension permits 447 current Somali TPS holders to retain their status through March 17, 2023 and offers protection for an estimated 100 additional Somali nationals who have been residing in the United States since July 19, 2021.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that the renewal of TPS for Somalia was appropriate due to the country’s ongoing armed conflict, numerous humanitarian crises, natural disasters, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost half of the current population of Somalia needs some form of humanitarian assistance. According to Mayorkas, with the extension of the TPS designation, “the United States will be able to offer safety and protection to Somalis who may not be able to return to their country.”

State and Local

Texas’ Involvement in Federal Immigration Enforcement Raises Legal Concerns

On July 21, Texas began arresting and jailing suspected unauthorized border-crossers under charges of criminal trespassing. The controversial enforcement strategy came after Governor Abbott issued a disaster proclamation at the U.S.-Mexico border and introduced “Operation Lone Star,” an effort to “combat the smuggling of drugs and people into Texas.”

As of July 21, three migrants have been arrested by State Troopers and taken to a state prison. Officials involved in the operation anticipate law enforcement in the region will ramp up to as many as 200 arrests a day by August.

Governor Abbott’s disaster proclamation initially compelled all border counties to participate in the program. The order, however, was revised in June to offer optional participation. Texas counties that face the majority of the states’ cross-border traffic, including El Paso, Laredo, and those in the Rio Grande Valley, have opted not to participate in the effort. Officials in these counties asserted that the current rate of border encounters is similar to past upswings and that neither their budget nor crime rates have been significantly impacted.

The officials and civil rights advocates have also raised concerns that arrests under the program may not be legal, noting that immigration enforcement is the sole responsibility of the federal government.

Nominations/Personnel

Senator Delays Confirmation Hearing for CBP Commissioner

On July 21, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) announced his intention to delay Chief Chris Magnus’s confirmation hearing to lead U.S. Customs and Borders Protection (CBP). Senator Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee—which oversees CBP confirmations—notified the White House that he would stall the hearing until the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) answer questions related to the use of federal agents against protestors in Portland following the murder of George Floyd.

After Senator Wyden’s statement, DHS and DOJ officials said they are working to provide the requested information, while White House officials urged the Senate to proceed with Magnus’s hearing. The delay in the confirmation comes as CBP announced that unauthorized border crossings in June reached the highest monthly total in several years.

On July 21, a group of over 60 law enforcement leaders from across the country called for the “quick confirmation” of Chief Magnus to lead CBP. The letter, which was coordinated by Magnus’ fellow members of the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force, stated that, “Confirming Chief Magnus as Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection is a wise choice for the country’s security and treatment of immigrants. Given the continuing humanitarian crisis at the border, there is an urgent need for his leadership and expertise.”

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Congressional Research Service (CRS): Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Programs; Updated June 21, 2021

This report is an overview of special immigrant visas (SIVs) for Iraqi and Afghan nationals. SIVs allow eligible Iraqi and Afghan citizens to become lawful permanent residents in the United States. These visas are for those who worked as translators or were otherwise employed for or on behalf of the U.S. government during ongoing military efforts. The report also explains other factors for eligibility for SIVs, the various visa programs, and the federal assistance that SIV recipients can access.

Congressional Research Service (CRS): Primer on U.S. Immigration Policy; Updated July 1, 2021

This report is a primer on U.S. immigration policy, explaining where the authority for immigration policies originates and the factors impacting major aspects of immigration policy. The two major types of immigration policy are those that manage migration flows and admissions, and those that restrict entry or call for the removal of particular persons from the country. This report explains processes for both temporary and permanent admission, and describes how immigration policies are enforced by the government.

Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General: Violations of ICE Detention Standards at Adams County Correctional Center; July 14, 2021

During a routine inspection at the Adams County Correctional Center, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found various violations of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention standards. These violations related to medical care and addressing detainee requests and threatened the health and safety of detainees. In one case, facility staff did not send a sick detainee to the hospital for urgent care, and the detainee died. OIG also found that facility staff did not properly document medical check-ups or complaints. Additionally, staff at Adams did not meet standards related to classification, grievance, and segregation.

Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General (OIG): CBP Generally Provided Accurate Notices to Appear to Migrant Protection Protocols Enrollees, but Could Improve Procedures to Reduce Future Errors; July 14, 2021

When the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) were issued in January 2019 by the Trump administration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began automatically returning some migrants back to Mexico to await their hearings. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) published this report on the efficacy of DHS’s procedures to notify those enrolled in MPP of their hearings. OIG found that in 20 out of 106 cases sampled, DHS had sent migrants inaccurate notices to appear. In these cases, when a legally insufficient notice to appear is served and a migrant fails to appear for the hearing, the removal case cannot be prosecuted.

Government Accountability Office (GAO): Immigration Enforcement: Actions Needed to Better Track Cases Involving U.S. Citizenship Investigations; July 20, 2021

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) policies for investigating an individual’s citizenship and found that these agencies’ guidance has been inconsistent. ICE policy does not require officers to update citizenship status on an individual’s investigation documents, even if they have received evidence that someone is a U.S citizen. As a result, some U.S. citizens have claimed that ICE mistakenly detained or removed them.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Explainer: Judge Hanen’s DACA Ruling

This explainer breaks down the July 16 decision from Judge Hanen, who ruled that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) ― a policy that allows undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as children to stay in the country ― is “illegal.”

Explainer: What’s Happening at the U.S.-Mexico Border

This regularly updated explainer breaks down what is happening at the U.S.-Mexico border, analyzing CBP data on recent apprehensions, describing the impact and use of Title 42 expulsions as well as the treatment of arriving UACs, and providing additional context on reports of increased migration to the U.S. and releases of migrant families into the interior. The explainer also includes a Facebook live discussion covering recent developments at the border.

Fact Sheet: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

This resource provides information about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. It also describes how DACA recipients strengthen the United States and why Dreamers are still in need of a permanent solution.

* * *

*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. Danilo can be reached at acastellanos@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.

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