BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
Protecting Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation (POWER) Act
This bill seeks to protect immigrant victims of crime or serious labor or employment violations from removal from the United States.
Sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez (D – New Jersey) (4 cosponsors – 3 Republicans ; 1 Independent)
05/22/2018 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Menendez
05/22/2018 Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
Queen of the Hill
This resolution would bring four immigration reform bills to the U.S. House floor. It would offer alternatives to the Securing America’s Future Act, proposed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia), which would dramatically transform our immigration system. Those alternatives comprise the bipartisan DREAM Act and USA Act, and an immigration bill of Speaker Paul Ryan’s choice.
Sponsored by Representative Jeff Denham (R – California) (244 cosponsors – 48 Republicans ; 196 Democrats)
03/13/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Denham
03/13/2018 Referred to the House Committee on Rules
05/09/2018 Motion to Discharge Committee filed by Mr. Curbelo (FL). Petition No: 115-10
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, June 4, 2018.
The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Tuesday, June 5, 2018 through Friday, June 8, 2018.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
This hearing will examine priorities of the Department of Health and Human Services, which is required to ensure unaccompanied immigrant children (UAC) are protected from human trafficking and other forms of abuse, among its other responsibilities.
Date: Wednesday, June 6, 2018 at 10 a.m. (House Committee on Education and the Workforce)
Location: 2175 Rayburn House Office Building
Alex M. Azar, II, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary
Date: Wednesday, June 6, 2018 at 2:30 p.m. (Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration)
Location: 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Joseph G. Morosco, Assistant Director, National Intelligence Manager-Counterintelligence, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Louis Rodi, Deputy Assistant Director, National Security Investigations Division, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
E.W. “Bill” Priestap, Assistant Director, Counterintelligence Division, Federal Bureau of Investigations
Edward J. Ramotowski, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Dr. Kevin Gamache, Ph.D., Chief Security Officer, The Texas A&M University System
Jill Welch, Deputy Executive Director for Public Policy, NAFSA: Association of International Educators
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
Senators Urge Trump to Act on Immigration
A bipartisan group of senators have been reportedly discussing immigration reform behind the scenes, including talks about a permanent solution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients. Politico reported that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) called President Trump in May, urging him to promptly act on immigration. Observers believe the Senate could be ready to act on immigration this summer if the House acts on the issue or the courts halt DACA.
In the meantime, the House discharge petition addressing the future of Dreamers continues to gather signatures. The petition would force votes on several potential legislative fixes in the House for beneficiaries of DACA, which the Trump administration terminated in September, but has been continued pursuant to federal court injunctions. Exactly 213 lawmakers – 23 Republicans and 190 Democrats – had signed onto the petition as of Friday, June 1, five signatures short of the required 218. Republicans may need to provide the last five signatures, as three Democrats have indicated they will not sign onto the petition over concerns that the final bill will fund a border wall.
Uproar over Family Separation
With hundreds of children being separated from their parents at the border as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy at the border, advocates, elected officials and commentators condemned the new family separation policies.
While President Trump attempted to blame Democrats for the policy, analysts noted that no law mandates family separation and that the recent surge of family separations is the direct result of Trump policies. In defending the policy, the Trump administration cited what it calls “loopholes” from prior court rulings and laws that supposedly encourage adults to bring kids across the border. These include the provision preventing fast deportation of certain unaccompanied children (UAC) and policies permitting people seeking asylum in the U.S. to be released from custody while their case is pending. Many of these provisions included in the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), which was signed by President George W. Bush in 2008, had overwhelming bipartisan support.
On May 31, Democratic leaders sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) calling on the Trump administration to halt family separation. On June 1, a group of immigration advocates also filed a complaint against the U.S. government with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The petition accuses the Trump administration of “effectively disappearing” hundreds of children and calls on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to investigate. In March, prior to the rollout of the “zero tolerance” policy, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a national class action lawsuit challenging family separation.
Child Shelters Filling Due to “Zero Tolerance” Policy
On May 29, 2018, the Washington Post reported child shelters at the border are at 95 percent capacity. Under the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, adults are to face criminal charges for unlawful entry and reentry offenses. As parents are sent to criminal detention facilities, their children are sent to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shelters before being placed with relatives or foster families.
The family separation policy has led to a dramatic increase in children needing to be placed by HHS. Between May 6 and May 19, 638 adults with them 658 children were referred for prosecution. As a result, HHS shelters are currently at 95 percent capacity and steadily increasing. This may force HHS to utilize other spaces such as military bases and government-owned buildings, previously considered “last resort,” to house migrant children.
Experts and Officials Clarify “Lost Children” Claims
Immigration experts and administration officials sought to clarify recent concerns that the federal government had “lost” almost 1,500 unaccompanied migrant children (UACs). The claims, which had been highlighted in several recent stories about the Trump administration’s family separation policy, are not directly linked to the family separation policy and refers to a separate population of children.
In an April Senate subcommittee hearing, Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary at HHS’s Administration for Children and Families, said that ORR had lost track of 1,475 children who had crossed the southern border on their own and were placed with adult sponsors in the U.S.
In a May 29 statement, HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan sought to clarify the issue, explaining that the UACs are not lost. He said that the recent reports accusing the agency of losing 1,500 UACs are misleading, as the number simply reflected sponsors who failed to answer follow-up phone calls from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Experts have confirmed this explanation, with some noting that some UAC sponsors may have decided to not return the calls due to worries about their own immigration statuses.
Trump Administration to Require Parental Fingerprints to Claim Their Migrant Children
On May 29, NBC News reported the HHS will be fingerprinting parents prior to releasing their migrant children back into their custody. Under this policy, parents will be required to input their fingerprints into a system that would reveal whether the parent has a criminal record. The fingerprinting requirement represents a change in policy – currently, all sponsors are required to complete and interview and background check while only non-parental sponsors are required to provide fingerprints.
DHS defends the practice as being to ensure the safety of children. The implementation of this policy will likely deter parents from claiming their children, due to concerns that coming forward could expose the family to deportation. This threatens to add to already increasing number of unaccompanied children.
A policy of fingerprinting parents was previously proposed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during the Obama administration but was rejected by HHS due to concerns it would delay the reunification process and would likely deter parents from claiming their children.
DHS to Issue Additional 15,000 H-2B Visas
On May 25, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it will issue 15,000 additional H-2B visas for seasonal workers. The decision was made by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, along with Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. The increase is intended to counter the limitations in the program that “unintentionally harm American businesses,” shown in recent reports that Maryland’s crab industry is facing major worker shortages, due in part to a lack of available H-2B visas.
H-2B visa allocations are typically determined by Congress, but in the omnibus appropriations bill passed in March, Congress provided the administration with authority to issue additional visas where businesses were facing worker shortages. Last year, a previous 15,000-visa increase was made by then-DHS secretary, John Kelly.
DHS Authorizes Grant Funding for “Sanctuary Cities”
According to a report in McClatchy, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen released $1.7 billion in grant funding to cities and localities, including a number of jurisdictions that the Trump administration asserts are “sanctuary cities.” The release of the funding, which comes in the form of preparedness grants that protect cities from “terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies,” follows threats to withhold money from these jurisdictions.
The release of the funds by Nielsen follows federal court decisions barring the Trump administration from withholding funds under its executive order targeting “sanctuary cities.” Nielsen approved the release following reports that President Trump has been increasingly critical of her in recent months, leading to some speculation she could face additional criticism.
Advocacy Groups Sue to Halt Citizenship Question in Census
On May 31, a coalition of advocacy groups led by Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund sued the Trump administration over its planned inclusion of a citizenship question in the 2020 census. Plaintiffs assert that the inclusion of the question will deter immigrant communities from taking part in the census and is in violation of the constitutional requirement of an accurate count of all persons in the United States. Undercounting these communities would lead to underrepresentation in Congress, and reductions in federal funding.
In March, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced it would add a citizenship question to the Census for the first time since 1950.
State and Local
Seventeen People Arrested at New Hampshire CBP Checkpoint after Court Ruling Limiting Checkpoints
Following a May 1 court ruling limiting the use of CBP checkpoints, Border Patrol agents arrested 17 individuals without proper immigration documents in Woodstock, New Hampshire over Memorial Day Weekend. The arrest took place at a checkpoint 90 miles from the Canadian border. Border patrol agents are permitted to request proof of citizenship and immigration status of any individual passing through CBP checkpoints.
However, in accordance with a May 1 court ruling by Plymouth District Court Judge Thomas Rappa, CBP checkpoint searches aimed at non-immigration offenses, such as drug possession, violate the New Hampshire Constitution.
In response to arrests, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire (ACLU-NH) will be pursuing an investigation in regard to the use of the checkpoint, examining whether the checkpoint complied with the court’s order. Critics continue to challenge the legality and timing of operations among CBP checkpoints.
There were no immigration or workforce related government reports published during the week of Monday, May 28, 2018.
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES
This blog provides an overview of the Discharge Petition on Dreamers filed on May 9 to bring the Queen of the Hill resolution to the floor of the House for a vote.
This document provides a summary of the “Queen of the Hill” resolution on Dreamers that would require the U.S. House of Representatives to consider four immigration bills to address DACA recipients.
Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, published this Daily Beast op-ed about family separation at U.S.-Mexico border.
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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.