Passport Backlog Elimination Act
The bill would require the Secretary of State to submit a plan to eliminate the backlog of passport applications due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sponsored by Gerald E. Connolly (D-Virginia) (8 cosponsors— 5 Democrats, 3 Republicans)
07/22/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Connolly
07/22/2021 Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Let Immigrants Kickstart Employment (LIKE) Act
The bill would establish a new class of nonimmigrant visas for entrepreneurs and essential employees affiliated with start-up entities. The proposed three-year visa would be available for individuals who possess an ownership interest in a start-up entity and play a central role in its management or operations.
Sponsored by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-California) (0 cosponsors)
07/26/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Lofgren
07/26/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
Global Migration Agreement Act and Stop Arming Human Rights Abusers Act (SAHRAA)
The bill would instruct the State Department and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations to take the lead on creating a binding international migration agreement, and lays out the principles and rights on which such an agreement should be based. The bill would also impose human rights and humanitarian conditions on security cooperation with the United States. The bill would establish red lines based on internationally recognized gross violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law.
Sponsored by Representative Ilhan Omar (D- Minnesota) (0 cosponsors)
07/27/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Omar
07/27/2021 Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Criminal Alien Removal Clarification Act
The bill would allow the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to deport non-citizens convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors.
Sponsored by Representative Paul A. Gosar (R-Arizona) (25 cosponsors— 25 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
07/28/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Gosar
07/28/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
Empowering Law Enforcement Act
The bill would grant state and local law enforcement inherent immigration enforcement authority to investigate, identify, apprehend, arrest, detain or transfer a migrant that has entered the U.S. illegally.
Sponsored by Representative Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-Georgia) (10 cosponsors— 10 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
07/29/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Carter
07/29/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
Higher Education Dream Act
The bill would prohibit institutions that receive federal funds from refusing to admit, enroll, or grant in-state tuition benefits to Dreamers who otherwise meet all qualifications. The bill would also grant Dreamers access to federal financial aid to ensure that they can afford and obtain higher education. Additionally, the bill would ban the distribution of identifiable or sensitive information from Dreamers’ applications.
Sponsored by Representative Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona) (16 cosponsors— 16 Democrats, 0 Republicans)
07/29/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Gallego
07/29/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Education and Labor
To amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to repeal certain waiver authority relating to the construction of new border barriers
Sponsored by Representative Kathleen M. Rice (D-New York) (6 cosponsors— 6 Democrats, 0 Republicans)
07/29/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Rice
07/29/2021 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security.
Canadian Snowbird Visa Act
The bill would extend from 182 to 240 days the amount of time that Canadians, over the age of 50 who own or lease a home, can remain in the United States.
Sponsored by Representative Elise M. Stefanik (R-New York) (10 cosponsors— 7 Republicans, 3 Democrats)
07/29/2021 Introduced in the House by Representative Stefanik
07/29/2021 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, August 2, 2021.
The U.S. House of Representatives will not be in session the week of Monday, August 2, 2021.
Business Meeting to Consider the Nomination of Ed Gonzalez to Be an Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security
Date: Wednesday, August 4, 2021 at 10:30 am E.T. (Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs)
Location: Dirksen Senate Office Building Room SD-342, Washington, D.C.
Democrats Prepare to Move Reconciliation Bill Following Progress on Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal
On July 28, the Senate voted to advance a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, which Senate Democrats are hoping to move in tandem with a broader budget reconciliation effort that may include significant immigration reforms. The vote to take up the infrastructure deal passed 67 to 32 and was the result of extensive negotiations between moderates in both parties. Significant work remains to hammer out final text and get the deal over the finishing line, but the vote keeps the Senate on track to debate and then pass the bill in early August before an annual summer recess. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) called the deal a “vitally important first step.”
Movement on the infrastructure package has led Democrats to advance a separate, $3.5 trillion plan under budget reconciliation rules, which would allow them to advance additional priorities with only a simple majority. Among many other items, the reconciliation bill currently would provide for permanent protections for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and other essential workers, including farmworkers, as well as funding for border security and infrastructure at ports of entry. Budget reconciliation is a two-stage process that consists first of a budget resolution that recommends spending and revenue levels followed by a spending bill that provides specific policy changes consistent with the budget resolution.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said that, “My goal remains to pass both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution during this work period.” According to Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont), the budget resolution could come to the floor as early as the week of August 2.
The reconciliation bill remains in a preliminary stage – its legislative text has not yet been drafted, it needs to overcome procedural hurdles, and it is still unclear whether it will garner enough support from moderate Democrats.
Biden Administration Unveils Immigration Plans to Secure the Border and Tackle Root Causes of Migration
This week, the White House released plans detailing its immigration strategy, including efforts to secure the border and address root causes of migration from Central America. On July 29, the White House unveiled a report on its “Collaborative Migration Management Strategy” (Migration Strategy), which focuses on strengthening cooperative efforts to manage migration in North and Central America. Under the Migration Strategy, the administration will seek to enhance humanitarian support and regional protections for populations with acute needs. Also, on July 29, Vice President Harris released a report aimed at addressing the root causes of migration from Central America, including combatting economic insecurity and inequality, tackling corruption and violence, and promoting respect for human rights in the region.
Previously, on July 27, the White House unveiled a 21-point immigration plan addressing ongoing challenges at the U.S. southern border. The border blueprint outlines strategies to improve the management of the border, process asylum applications fairly, and strengthen collaborative migration management with regional partners, with the aim of achieving an “orderly, secure, and well-managed border” while ensuring that migrants are treated “fairly and humanely.”
The release of the border blueprint document followed a July 26 announcement by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that it would begin utilizing expedited removal proceedings against undocumented immigrant families who do not express fear of return to their home country when detained and are not able to be expelled under 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. Refugee advocacy groups were deeply critical of the announcement, warning that the fast-track process is likely to lead to the unlawful deportation of migrants with valid asylum claims.
First Flight with Afghan SIV Applicants Lands in Virginia; Supplemental Spending Bill Will Fund Their Protection
On July 30, about 200 Afghan translators who helped American soldiers and diplomats in Afghanistan landed in the U.S. to be housed at Fort Lee, in Virginia. The relocation flight was part of Operation Allies Refuge, a program designed by the Biden Administration to process Afghans seeking Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) in a timely and safe manner as they continue their visa processes outside of Afghanistan.
To fund the relocation of the thousands of Afghan SIV applicants, on July 29, Senators from across the aisle voted 98-0 on a $2.1 billion supplemental security spending bill that will, in part, be used for this purpose. The bill allocated approximately $1.1 billion to the evacuation, including $600 million to improve SIV processing, $500 million for emergency transportation, and $25 million for medical screening and long-term housing once the SIVs have arrived in the United States.
The supplemental security spending bill complements the legislative efforts of the House of Representatives. On July 22, the House passed the Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act, which 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. The ALLIES Act awaits consideration in the Senate. Approximately 18,000 applicants—and their families—remain in the SIV backlog, which can take more than three years from start to finish.
Biden Administration Extends and Redesignates Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
On July 30, the Biden Administration posted for public inspection a Federal Register notice (FRN) extending and redesignating Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The 18-month extension, effective August 3, will allow 55,000 current Haitian TPS holders to retain their status through February 3, 2023 and offers protection for an estimated 100,000 additional Haitian nationals who are currently residing in the United States as of July 29, 2021.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that the renewal of TPS for Haiti was appropriate in light of recent events in the country, including the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, numerous humanitarian crises, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayorkas also reiterated that Haitians who attempt to travel to the U.S. after July 29, 2021, will not be eligible for TPS and will be subject to expulsion or removal.
Attorney General Garland Vacates Trump-Era Decision that Made Appeals of Asylum Determinations Difficult
On July 26, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland vacated a Trump-era legal opinion that made it harder for asylum seekers to appeal adverse determinations, especially in cases involving gang and domestic violence. Garland’s decision overturned former Attorney General William Barr’s opinion in Matter of A-C-A-A-, which had directed immigration judges not to accept parties’ stipulations of any element required to prove an asylum claim, including whether the victim was a member of a “particular social group.”
Garland’s opinion stated that the Board of Immigration Appeals should follow a more traditional approach to reviewing only contested issues, and accept the parties’ stipulation to uncontested issues, noting that reopening noncontested issues would impose “rigid procedural requirements that undermine the fair and efficient adjudication of asylum claims.”
State and Local
Texas Governor Orders State Troopers to Stop Vehicles Suspected of Transporting Migrants; Attorney General Prepares to Sue Texas
On July 28, Governor Greg Abbott (R-Texas) ordered state troopers to stop vehicles suspected of transporting migrants. Arguing that migrants pose may carry COVID-19, Abbott instructed troopers to reroute the cars with migrants back to their origin point or a U.S. port of entry. The order, which raises concerns over racial profiling, was heavily criticized by local and national advocacy groups. Advocates also highlighted the order’s dubious legality, noting that immigration enforcement is the sole responsibility of the federal government.
Subsequently, on July 29, Attorney General Garland sent a letter to Governor Abbott urging him to rescind the order immediately. Garland argued that it jeopardizes the health and safety of noncitizens and interferes with the implementation of federal immigration law. Garland warned that a failure to rescind the order will lead the Justice Department to pursue all the appropriate legal remedies to ensure that Texas does not interfere with the federal immigration enforcement authority.
The executive order comes amid growing concerns over an increase in COVID-19 cases in Texas related to the more contagious delta variant. Critics argued that Abbott, who is running for reelection, was “hypocritical” given Abbott’s opposition to other COVID-19 mitigation strategies, including his ban on local mask ordinances, and characterized the executive order as an attempt to “scapegoat” immigrants for Texas’s COVID-19 policies.
Eighty-Four Mayors Urge Pathway to Citizenship Through Reconciliation
On July 26, 84 mayors from thirty states signed a letter urging Congress and the Biden administration to prioritize a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS holders, and essential workers in forthcoming budget reconciliation legislation. Providing a pathway to citizenship for them—the mayors wrote—”not only recognizes the sacrifices they have made for all Americans over the past year, but also the important role they continue to play in America’s economic recovery and long-term global competitiveness.”
The signatories—which include the mayors of the four most populous U.S. cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston—argued that five million undocumented immigrants are the backbone of essential industries such as construction, agriculture, food services and production, transportation, and healthcare. “They have risked their lives and the lives of their families to keep our nation running during one of the most challenging periods in modern history.”
Nominations & Personnel
U.S. Senate Confirms Ur Jaddou to Lead USCIS
On July 30, the U.S. Senate voted 47-34 to confirm Ur Mendoza Jaddou as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Jaddou, the daughter of Mexican and Iraqi immigrants, will be the first woman to lead the agency. In her May 26 hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jaddou stated that financial reform, reducing backlogs, and improving technology would be her top priorities if she was confirmed. In her opening remarks, she highlighted that the ultimate goal of USCIS should be to process applications “fairly, efficiently, and in a humane manner.”
Jaddou’s confirmation marks the third top-level U.S. Department of Homeland Security seat to be filled under the Biden administration—along with DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and DHS Deputy Secretary John Tien. Jaddou previously served as USCIS chief counsel during the Obama administration and worked on Capitol Hill and in the State Department.
Department of Homeland Security – Office of the Inspector General (OIG): Review of the February 16, 2020 Childbirth at the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station; July 20, 2021
This report analyzes Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) policies and practices relating to childbirths occurring at Border Patrol stations. The DHS’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that Border Patrol kept only limited data on pregnant detainees and lacks the necessary processes and guidance to reliably track childbirths in custody. In addition, OIG found that Border Patrol does not always take prompt action to expedite the release of U.S. citizen newborns, resulting in some being held in stations for multiple days and nights, which poses health, safety, and legal concerns. The OIG also noted the absence of guidelines on interpreting for Spanish-speaking detainees at hospitals, which could have serious health implications for detainees.
Department of Homeland Security – Office of the Inspector General (OIG): CBP Needs to Strengthen Its Oversight and Policy to Better Care for Migrants Needing Medical Attention, July 20, 2021
In this report, OIG reviewed CBP standards of care for migrants following the deaths of two children in a CBP facility in 2018. OIG found that CBP needs to improve its policies to ensure that migrants are protected when experiencing medical emergencies. For example, CBP could not consistently show that officials properly conducted medical screenings for every case that was reviewed, meaning that the agency may not be able to quickly and efficiently identify migrants experiencing medical emergencies.
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES
This resource explains the elements, rules, and history of the budget reconciliation process. Congressional Democrats are expected to try to use reconciliation to avoid a Senate filibuster and pass immigration reforms with a simple majority.
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.
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.
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*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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.