Legislative Bulletin — Friday, July 29, 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. 4591

Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act

Among various other provisions, the bill would prohibit the denial of immigration-related benefits or protections to any noncitizen based on their use or possession of cannabis.

Sponsored by Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) (4 cosponsors— 4 Democrats, 0 Republicans)

07/21/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Booker

07/21/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Finance

S. 4636

Asylum Accountability Act

The bill would bar noncitizens who fail to appear at removal proceedings from becoming permanent residents of the United States.

Sponsored by Senator Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) (4 cosponsors— 4 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

07/27/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Tillis

07/27/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

S. 4637

A bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to clarify the meaning of the term “frivolous application” with respect to asylum claims

Sponsored by Senator Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) (3 cosponsors— 3 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

07/27/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Tillis

07/27/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

S. 4642

A bill to require a comprehensive southern border strategy

Sponsored by Senator Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) (2 cosponsors— 2 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

07/27/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Tillis

07/27/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

S. 4644

Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) Restoration Act

The bill would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create within Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) an office to support victims of crimes committed by immigrants called the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office. This is a companion bill of H.R. 7595.

Sponsored by Senator Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) (1 cosponsor— 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)

07/27/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Tillis

07/27/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

H.R. 7946

Veteran Service Recognition Act of 2022

The bill would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Defense to implement a program that allows non-citizen service members to file for naturalization during basic training or as early as otherwise possible. The bill would also direct DHS to establish a Military Family Immigration Advisory Committee, which would review the cases of non-citizen veterans and active-duty service members in removal proceedings and provide recommendations as to whether prosecutorial discretion is warranted or whether the removal proceedings should continue. The bill would also provide an opportunity for non-citizen veterans who have been removed or ordered removed and who have not been convicted of serious crimes to apply for and obtain legal permanent resident status in the U.S.

Sponsored by Representative Mark Takano (D-California) (28 cosponsors— 28 Democrats, 0 Republicans)

06/03/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Takano

06/03/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Veterans’ Affairs, Armed Services, and the Judiciary

07/27/2022   Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by a 23 – 16 vote.

H.R. 8441

No Federal Tax Dollars for Illegal Aliens Health Insurance Act of 2022

The bill would forbid states from using federal tax money to offset the cost of health insurance or provide any other benefit to undocumented immigrants.

Sponsored by Representative Ken Buck (R-Colorado) (2 cosponsors— 2 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

07/20/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Buck

07/20/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means

H.R. 8453

Upholding the Dayton Peace Agreement Through Sanctions Act

Among other provisions, the bill would deny the issuance of any type of visa to individuals who threaten the peace, security, stability, or territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Sponsored by Representative Ann Wagner (R-Missouri) (2 cosponsors— 2 Democrats, 0 Republicans)

07/20/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Wagner

07/20/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Foreign Affairs, Financial Services, and the Judiciary

H.R. 8490

Protecting an Alien Child’s Reasonable Expectation of No Trafficking Act of 2022 (PARENT Act of 2022)

The bill would prohibit CBP from releasing unaccompanied migrant children to anyone other than the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), a verified parent, or a legal guardian.

Sponsored by Representative Michael Burgess (R-Texas) (7 cosponsors— 7 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

07/26/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Burgess

07/26/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, August 1, 2022. The Senate will not be in session from Monday, August 8, through Tuesday, September 6, 2022.

The U.S. House of Representatives will not be in session from Monday, August 1, through Tuesday, September 6, 2022.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Business Meeting to Consider S.4326, to authorize the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pay stipends to members of Transnational Criminal Investigative Units who have been properly vetted; S.4460, to require the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to regularly review and update policies and manuals related to inspections at ports of entry; S.4572, to require U.S. Customs and Border Protection to expand the use of non-intrusive inspection systems at land ports of entry

Date: Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs)

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

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Developments in Congress May Impact Prospects for Immigration Legislation

As Congress approaches the August recess and coming November midterm elections, advocates have continued to press for action on immigration reform. But immigration-related items have been largely cut out of legislative packages moving on the Hill the week of July 25.

On July 28, Congress passed the “Chips and Science” act, a significant bipartisan effort to grow the semiconductor industry and bolster the U.S.’s ability to   compete with countries like China. The bill is a stripped-down version of the COMPETES Act, which previously passed the House with several immigration provisions — none of which survived the final vote. On July 27, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) came to an agreement on a potential budget reconciliation package, which would allow Senate Democrats to avoid a filibuster and pass the legislation with a simple majority. While Democrats initially hoped to include sweeping immigration reform and legalization provisions in budget reconciliation, the Manchin-Schumer deal focuses narrowly on revenue raising, climate provisions, and Affordable Care Act premiums.

The partisan nature of the reconciliation bill may hinder other bipartisan congressional efforts, including on immigration reform. However, a July 18 NPR report revealed that a bipartisan group of Senators is close to agreeing on revised language for the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a bill which provides an earned pathway to legal status for undocumented farmworkers, alterations to the H-2A seasonal agriculture visa, and enhanced immigration enforcement for the agriculture industry. The bill passed the House with bipartisan support in 2021.

Despite the exclusion of immigration reform in the Chips bill and the budget reconciliation deal, congressional Republicans and Democrats have continued to discuss their immigration-related priorities. According to a July 21 Roll Call report, a group of House Republicans are planning to prioritize border security oversight and legislation if they take control of the House in November. On July 28, Senate Democrats unveiled their 2023 budget bills, which included a reduction of ICE detention beds, budgetary increases for CBP and USCIS, and broad green card recapture provisions.

U.S. Admits 100,000 Ukrainians Fleeing Russian Invasion, Matching Biden Pledge

According to a July 29 CBS News report, over the past month the U.S. has admitted over 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion. According to the report, approximately 47,000 of the Ukrainians have arrived on temporary visas (including tourist visas); 30,000 have arrived via Uniting for Ukraine (U4U), the recently stood-up private sponsorship humanitarian parole program; and more than 22,000 were provided humanitarian parole after arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The numbers indicate that the Biden administration has followed through on its March pledge to welcome up to 100,000 fleeing the Russian invasion. However, only those entering via immigrant visas or refugee status have access to permanent status in the U.S. The vast majority of the 100,000 lack a path to permanence in the U.S., as they are currently residing on temporary parole protections or short-term nonimmigrant visas.

New Report Indicates That Immigrant Smuggling Is a $13-Billion Dollar Industry

According to a July 25 New York Times report, smuggling individuals into the United States had become a $13-billion dollar industry. The estimated economic value of the industry represents a sharp 2500% increase from the $500-million value estimated in 2018 by ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the federal agency that investigates such cases. The Times report highlights that immigrants pay between $4,000 and $20,000 to smugglers – commonly known as “coyotes” – to cross into the United States. The report also notes that in 2021, more than 5,046 people were arrested and charged with human smuggling, up from 2,762 in 2014.

In response to the growing migrant smuggling industry, in June the Biden Administration announced a multilateral $50-million operation titled Operation Sting, with the objective of disrupting human smuggling networks across the hemisphere. According to data released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as part of this operation, the U.S. government deployed over 1,300 personnel to execute nearly 30,000 law enforcement actions to disrupt and dismantle human smuggling organizations in Latin America. These efforts have led to the arrest of over 3,000 arrests since April. DHS further estimates, based on an assessment of various factors, that these disruption efforts are slowing, stopping, or reversing the flow of approximately 900 migrants each day.

Secretary Mayorkas Meets with Honduras’s President to Discuss Migration

On March 26 and 27, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas met in Tegucigalpa with high-ranking officials of the Honduran government to discuss joint strategies to address ongoing migration challenges in the region. According to preliminary information form the meeting, both countries agreed to develop a joint strategy to identify, target, investigate, and prosecute transnational criminal organizations engaged in human smuggling from Honduras to the United States. Both countries also agreed to protect the 3,772 Honduran children at the US-Mexico border under the custody of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). In addition, Honduras’s President Xiomara Castro requested the U.S. to issue temporary work visas for Honduran migrants and to redesignate Honduras for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

ICE Announces Pilot Program to Provide Temporary IDs to Undocumented Immigrants

On July 25, the Biden administration announced a pilot program, known as the “Secure Docket Card Program,” to provide temporary IDs to undocumented immigrants awaiting a final decision on their immigration cases. The pilot program is intended to facilitate undocumented immigrants’ access to housing, healthcare, transportation, and other basic benefits, while incentivizing communication with law enforcement. According to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials, the pilot program aims to incentivize undocumented immigrants to provide accurate location information and virtually check with law enforcement, rather than having to check in at an ICE office in person. The new ID will contain a photograph, biographic identifiers, and security features. It is also expected to have a QR code to access a portal with immigration case information and documents.

The House Appropriations Committee provided $10 million for the pilot program in its FY 2023 funding proposal, and the Biden administration hopes to obtain Congressional approval to start the program before the end of September.

Biden Administration Extends and Redesignates TPS for Syria

On July 29, the Biden Administration extended and redesignated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Syria. The 18-month extension will permit around 6,448 current Syrian TPS holders to retain their status through March 31, 2024. In addition, Syria’s redesignation will allow around 960 additional Syrians residing in the United States as of July 28, 2022, to be eligible for TPS.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that the renewal of TPS for Syria was appropriate due to “the ongoing civil war that has resulted in large-scale destruction of infrastructure, mass displacement of civilians, high levels of food insecurity, limited access to water and medical care, and indiscriminate and deliberate killing of civilians.”

TPS is granted by DHS to eligible foreign-born individuals who are unable to return home safely due to violence or other circumstances in their home country.

Legal

Families Separated at Border During Trump Administration File Lawsuit

On July 25, four parents who were separated from their children at the border under the Trump-era “zero tolerance” policy filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Government. The zero tolerance policy and its precursors resulted in the deliberate separation of more than 5,500 migrant children from their parents in 2017 and 2018.

In response to the family separations, in 2019 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a class-action lawsuit against the government, “seeking damages on behalf of thousands of traumatized children and parents who were forcibly torn from each other.” On October 28, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Biden administration was considering whether to settle the ACLU suit by paying approximately $450,000 per person to families who were separated. However, in January 2022, the Justice Department broke off talks with families and argued in federal court that immigrant families separated at the border were not entitled to financial damages, and their cases should be dismissed. While the class action lawsuit is still ongoing, some of the separated families are now filing individual claims seeking relief for damages they say they suffered as a result of the policy.

Civil Rights Groups File Complaints Against DHS and ICE over Allegations of “Abhorrent Conditions” of Detention Centers in Florida 

On July 26, sixteen civil right groups filed a complaint on behalf of fifteen immigrants detained at the Baker County detention center in Florida against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for violent abuse, medical neglect, and racial harassment. The complaint highlights excessive use of force, lack of proper hygiene and food, and lack of access to legal counsel. The complaint demands the immediate release of all immigrants “suffering at Baker while closure is considered,” and a permanent termination of the contract between the federal government and the Baker County detention center.

The Baker County detention center is not the only facility in the country facing such allegations. According to a July 22 report from The Guardian, two non-governmental organizations that track abuses at detention centers across the country — Freedom For Immigrants (FFI) and Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) — report receiving around 600 calls per week from detainees expressing rights violations, including retaliatory solitary confinement, physical and verbal aggressions, and racially targeted bullying.

State & Local

D.C. Mayor Calls on National Guard to Assist with Migrants Bused from Texas and Arizona

On July 28, following the busing of thousands of asylum-seeking migrants from Texas and Arizona to Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser said she is seeking to have 150 National Guard troops deployed to the city to assist with reception and care. Mayor Bowser called the arriving migrants “a humanitarian crisis that we expect to escalate.” According to recent reports, Governor Greg Abbott’s (R-Texas) busing initiative has transported over 5,200 people from Texas to D.C., with Governor Doug Ducey’s (R-Arizona) similar program busing over 1,100 asylum seekers to the nation’s capital.

Mayor Bowser’s public remarks came six days after she sent a letter to the White House calling the busing initiative “cruel political gamesmanship from the Governors of Texas and Arizona,” and requested federal support for her request to engage the National Guard. In her letter, Bowser argued that the city’s “ability to assist people in need at this scale is very limited. Instead of rolling up their sleeves and working with the Biden/Harris Administration on a real solution, Governors Abbot and Ducey have decided to use desperate people to score political points.”

Some local aid groups assisting the migrants have criticized Mayor Bowser’s request to involve the national guard, encouraging a more humanitarian response and noting the city could start by playing a more proactive role in coordinating the reception.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO); “Semiconductor Supply Chain: Policy Considerations from Selected Experts for Reducing Risks and Mitigating Shortages;” July 2022

This GAO report highlights the United States’ need to reduce the risks related to the global semiconductor shortage by stockpiling its own resources, strengthening its domestic labor pool with talent from overseas, updating international trade agreements, and investing in critical minerals and research and development.

U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO); “Facial Recognition Technology: CBP Traveler Identity Verification and Efforts to Address Privacy Issues;” July 27, 2022

This GAO report provides an overview of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program to use facial recognition technology for identity checks at some border locations. As of July 2022, CBP had deployed this technology to 32 airports for travelers leaving the U.S. and all airports for travelers entering the country.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Bill Summary: Veteran Service Recognition Act of 2022

The bill would establish an information database for removed noncitizen veterans, a review committee that makes recommendations on removal cases, and a military program that ensures and facilitates opportunities for service members and veterans to naturalize.

Bill Summary: Farm Workforce Modernization Act

The bill consists of three key platforms: (1) It would create a pathway to legalization for current unauthorized agricultural workers, including an eventual option to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR). (2) It would reform and modernize the existing H-2A temporary agricultural worker visa program. And (3), it would require all agriculture employers to implement a reformed “E-Verify” program to ensure their workers are authorized.

Bilateral Labor Agreements: A Beneficial Tool to Expand Pathways to Lawful Work

This paper explores the rationale, benefits, and history of bilateral labor agreements (BLAs) in the United States, including the recent labor mobility discussions with the Mexican government. It also highlights how these agreements can benefit the U.S., as they provide U.S. policymakers more control over the size of the temporary migrant workforce, while prioritizing needed skills and experience. It argues that BLAs are useful in addressing U.S. labor shortages, help manage the irregular migration flow at the U.S. southern border, and reaffirm the United States’ hemispheric leadership.

* * *

*We will publish our next bulletin on Thursday, August 11, 2022. 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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