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Legislative Bulletin – Friday, June 15, 2018

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

H. Res. 774

“Queen of the Hill” Resolution

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

H. Res. 927

Condemning the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy

This resolution condemns the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which separates immigrant families and tears children from their parents at the border.

Sponsored by Representative Rosa DeLauro (D – Connecticut) (150 cosponsors – 146 Democrats ; 0 Republicans)

06/07/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative DeLauro

06/07/2018 Referred to House Committee on the Judiciary

S. 3036

Keep Families Together Act

This bill would limit the separation of families at or near ports of entry.

Sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – California) (39 cosponsors – 36 Democrats ; 0 Republicans)

06/07/2018 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Feinstein

06/07/2018 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, June 18, 2018.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Tuesday, June 19, 2018 through Friday, June 22, 2018.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Citizenship for Sale: Oversight of the EB-5 Investor Visa Program

Date: June 19, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. (Senate Judiciary Committee)

Location: 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building 226

Witnesses: TBA

Subcommittee Markup of the Fiscal Year 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

Date: June 19, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. (Senate Appropriations Committee – Subcommittee on Homeland Security)

Location: 124 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Field Hearing: Opioids in the Homeland: DHS Coordination with State and Local Partners to Fight the Epidemic

Date: June 19, 2018, 12:30 p.m. (House Committee on Homeland Security – Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency)

Location: Room 205, Ryan Building, Pennsylvania Capitol Complex, N 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120

Witnesses: TBA

Committee Markup of the Fiscal Year 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

Date: June 21, 2018 at 10:30 a.m. (Senate Appropriations Committee)

Location: 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Trump Upends New House Republicans Plan for Immigration Legislation; Votes Slated to Begin Next Week Could Be Pushed Back

On June 15, President Trump upended a House Republican plan to hold two votes on immigration legislation beginning next week by expressing opposition to a new bill from GOP leadership to provide protections for Dreamers in exchange for much of the Trump administration’s immigration agenda. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) previously described working “hand in glove” with the White House in drafting the legislation.

On June 14, after the collapse of a moderate-led effort to require votes on four immigration bills, including bipartisan Dreamer legislation, House Republican leadership released immigration legislation that would provide Dreamers with legal status in exchange for incorporating President Trump’s “four-pillar” framework overhauling the immigration system. The bill, the result of negotiations between GOP leadership, Republican moderates, and the conservative Freedom Caucus, would provide certain Dreamers with indefinitely renewable status in exchange for $24 billion in funding of President Trump’s border wall, cuts to family immigration, the termination of the diversity visa lottery, new limits on asylum, and enforcement provisions targeting so-called sanctuary jurisdictions.

The bill includes a new points-based pathway to citizenship that would allow some Dreamers and “legal immigrant Dreamers” – the children of legal immigrant workers who lack a pathway to citizenship – the ability to get permanent residency under a points system based on English language ability, education, work, and military service. Many would not qualify under this points-based system, and the pathway would take a decade or longer for most Dreamers who would avail themselves of it. This pathway to citizenship would be subject to termination if the funds allocated to the U.S.-Mexico border wall are later reallocated.

House Republicans have touted the bill as halting family separation at the border, but critics have noted that it merely takes steps to expand family detention and increase expedited removals of children, removing existing protections that discourage holding children in immigration detention. The bill does not reverse the administration’s recently-announced “zero tolerance” policy that has resulted in significant increases in family separations in recent weeks.

The Republican bill emerged after the House discharge petition seeking votes on four immigration bills  was halted due to the progress of negotiations between Republican moderates and conservatives and fell two signatures short of the 218 required. The petition faced a June 12 deadline to bring the four bills to a vote before the end of the month. All 193 Democrats signed the discharge petition, along with 23 Republicans.

Faith and law enforcement leaders in key districts across the U.S. had been urging their representatives to support the discharge petition. If President Trump’s stated opposition to the GOP bill leads to the an end to the agreement to vote on two immigration bills next week, proponents of the discharge petition may renew their efforts to obtain two additional signatures and bring four immigration bills to the House floor in late July.

Sessions Issues Opinion Halting Asylum for Domestic Violence Survivors, Gang Victims

On June 11, attorney general Jeff Sessions issued an opinion limiting the availability of asylum in the U.S., essentially foreclosing survivors of domestic violence and people targeted by gangs from receiving asylum, potentially sending thousands of people back to their home countries where they may face abuse, extortion and even death.

The opinion stated, “Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum.” This overly-narrow view of asylum law would exclude from eligibility people fleeing domestic violence as well as gang-related violence, whom Sessions argues do not qualify for protections in the U.S. as their persecution is not based on membership in a “particular social group.” Immigration courts have previously interpreted “particular social group” to permit these types of claims in certain circumstances. The decision comes less than two months after the Justice Department imposed quotas on immigration judges, further undermining due process for survivors of gang violence or domestic abuse who seek asylum.

The Sessions opinion was roundly criticized by legal experts, domestic violence, civil rights, immigration, and refugee organizations and congressional Democrats, who condemned the opinion for reversing existing legal precedent, undermining the due process of asylum seekers, and placing thousands of vulnerable people at risk.

At their biannual meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) harshly criticized Trump administration immigration policies, calling the new asylum rules “immoral.” In a statement released on June 13, USCCB president Cardinal Daniel DiNardo referred to asylum as “an instrument to preserve the right to life” and harshly criticized attorney general Sessions’ recent decision limiting the availability of asylum for victims of domestic violence.

Sessions defended his decision in speech in Fort Wayne, Indiana and asserted that recent criticisms of these policies were “not fair, not logical and some are contrary to plain law.”

In March, Sessions referred himself the case using a rarely-used power the attorney general has over immigration cases. The asylum decision is Sessions’ latest attempt to use his authority to deter immigrants and asylum seekers fleeing violence and persecution from seeking refuge in the U.S. Last month, the Justice Department imposed a zero-tolerance policy that has torn apart families and overwhelmed immigration courts.

Outrage over Trump Family Separation Policy Builds as Children Are Taken from Parents at the Border

Outrage continued to build over the Trump administration’s family separation policies following a stream of harrowing reports, including a baby being removed from her mother in the middle of breastfeeding, children being taken away by federal immigration authorities “for a bath” and never returning, a lonely five-year old sleeping with hand-drawn pictures of his family under his pillow in foster care after being separated from them, and a distraught father killing himself in detention after having his child taken away from him.

As the number of children separated from their parents in connection with the Justice Department’s new zero tolerance policy continues to mount, with more than 400 being separated from their parents between May 21 and June 5 in McAllen, Texas alone, members of Congress from both parties, faith leaders, and legal experts are continuing to speak out against these policies.

Cardinal Patrick O’Malley, head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, condemned the administration’s family separation policy, saying it “terrorizes children.” Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tucson, Arizona even raised the possibility of canonical penalties for Catholics “who are involved in,” carrying out the asylum-related policies.

On June 12, in the midst of the debate over DACA and family separation, the SBC overwhelmingly adopted a resolution that condemned “any form of nativism” and called for immigration reform that would “maintain[ ] the priority of family unity,” “secur[e] our borders and provid[e] a pathway to legal status with appropriate restitutionary measures.” Also on June 12, Franklin Graham of Samaritan’s Purse, evangelical leader and prominent Donald Trump supporter, spoke out against family separation, calling it “disgraceful,” adding that “it’s terrible to see families ripped apart.” Previously, on June 1, the Evangelical Immigration Table, a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values, sent a letter to President Trump decrying family separation.

On June 14, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders both struggled to defend administration policies leading to family separation after receiving sharp criticism from faith leaders. In a speech in Indiana, Sessions defended his newly-announced “zero-tolerance” policy  and argued that the administration’s enforcement policies were consistent with the Bible, citing the Apostle Paul in Romans 13. Later on June 14, in a tense exchange with reporters, Huckabee Sanders attempted to defend the policies on religious grounds stating, “I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible.”

These biblical arguments received much criticism, with scholars noting that the biblical passage cited by Sessions was commonly used to defend slavery in the pre-Civil War era and Christian writers and thinkers pushing back against the idea that these policies were somehow consistent with the Bible.

On June 13, a group of House Democrats led a protest outside Customs and Border Protection headquarters in Washington, D.C. and later blocked traffic near the White House, to protest the Trump administration’s family separation policies. House Democrats have proposed a resolution condemning the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy, while a Democratic sponsored bill in the Senate would limit family separation directly. Republicans have resisted standalone legislation to curtail family separation, instead seeking to include provisions limiting the availability of asylum and permitting family detention as an alternative to family separation, in broader immigration legislation.

ICE Enforcement Actions Extend to LPR, Former DACA Recipient

While the focus of attention has been on Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) enforcement activities against undocumented workers and asylum seekers, recent reports also indicate that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been carrying out activities against legal permanent residents (LPRs) and former Dreamers.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, on June 10, ICE detained an LPR who has resided in the United States for almost 50 years. Jose Luis Garcia, a 62-year-old grandfather, was picked up by ICE on an administrative warrant on the basis of an 18-year-old domestic violence incident. Even though Garcia completed his sentence for the incident years ago, ICE maintained that the conviction rendered him deportable and took him into custody. Despite having lawful status and a clean record since that conviction, Garcia faces deportation back to Mexico, where he has not lived since the 1960s.

Last week, the Des Moines Register reported on the death of 19 year-old Iowa high school student, Manuel Antonio Cano Pachecon, a former DACA recipient who was killed three weeks after being deported to Mexico. Pachecon, a young father whose DACA status was terminated and was deported after being convicted of two misdemeanors, speeding and driving under the influence, was murdered shortly after his return to Mexico, where he left as a three-year-old. Had he not been deported, Pachecon would have graduated high school in Iowa in May.

New USCIS Office Targets Those Who Submitted False Information to Get Citizenship

On June 12, the Associated Press reported that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be creating a new office dedicated to seeking out Americans suspected of “cheating” to get their citizenship and subsequently strip them of that status. The office will employ lawyers and immigration officers to review cases of immigrants that were ordered to be deported and thought to have assumed false identities to obtain green cards and become naturalized citizens. USCIS director L. Francis Cissna said this new office would refer the cases to the Department of Justice (DOJ). Instances where an individual is found to have submitted false information could ultimately lead to revocation of citizenship status through civil court proceedings and may even result in criminal fraud charges.

A September 2016 report by DHS’s Office of the Inspector General found that more than 800 immigrants who had been ordered deported or removed later obtained citizenship under another identity. While there have only been 305 civil denaturalization cases filed with the DOJ since 1990, this policy will likely increase that number significantly and in a short amount of time.

Under U.S. law, it is extremely difficult to revoke a naturalized citizen’s citizenship, with a recent unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court making clear that a naturalized citizen can only be stripped of their citizenship for providing a falsehood that is material to the naturalization process. Harmless errors or immaterial misrepresentations cannot, on their own, be used to revoke someone’s citizenship. The new USCIS office is expected to open late this year or next year and begin investigating potential false grants of citizenship shortly thereafter.

Trump Administration to Send 1,600 Immigration Detainees to Federal Prison; Considers “Tent Cities” on Military Bases to Hold Children

As immigration detention facilities hit capacity, the Trump administration is sending 1,600 immigration detainees to federal prisons, 1,000 of which are heading to a single prison in California. While the administration has adopted a “zero tolerance” policy to change an increasing number of immigration offenders with federal criminal offenses, the 1,600 in question are not being charged criminally – they have been charged civilly yet will be held in criminal facilities.

Congress has mandated that the Department of Homeland Security maintain 40,520 detention beds for fiscal year (FY) 2018 and provided more than $3 billion towards immigration detention. Detention of immigrants in criminal facilities are not included in these totals.

The administration’s move prompted criticism from advocates and lawmakers, including highlighting the fact that prison staff who normally work as electricians and plumbers have been deputized as corrections officers to handle the influx of new prisoners.

Separately, on June 12, McClatchy reported that the administration is considering erecting large “tent cities” on military bases in Texas to house unaccompanied children and children who have been separated from their families. With the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters nearing capacity, and the administration is reportedly considering building these temporary “tent cities” at Fort Bliss Army Base near El Paso, Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, and/or Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo. Advocates and others have condemned the camps, expressing concern about the impact on detaining children in these conditions. On June 14, the Trump administration announced it would begin housing children in tents in a temporary shelter near El Paso, Texas.

Legal

Trump Administration Sides with Texas in Arguing that DACA Is Unlawful

Late on June 8, the U.S. Department of Justice sided with Texas and six other states suing to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in a brief filed in federal court in Texas. The brief began, “The United States agrees with the State of Texas and other Plaintiffs that the policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is unlawful.”

A seven-state coalition led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Trump administration on May 1 to end DACA, arguing that DACA supersedes the president’s authority and leads to additional costs in health care, law enforcement and education among the states, as well as increased competition for jobs. However, research indicates that the DACA-eligible population contributes more than $1.6 billion annually to state and local taxes and that ending DACA would cost the economy $215 billion over a ten-year period.

The plaintiff states requested that the court issue a preliminary injunction to immediately stop the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from renewing DACA enrollments while the case moves forward and called on the court to rule on DACA before the end of July. A hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for July 17 before U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen, who was assigned the case in May. In 2015, Judge Hanen issued an injunction to block the implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded DACA and has expressed skepticism about DACA.

President Trump rescinded DACA on September 5, 2017, but a federal court in California blocked the Trump administration’s rescission of DACA and ordered that it allow those already enrolled in the program to renew their protections. Three federal judges have so far ruled against the administration’s efforts to end DACA. If Hanen rules in Texas’ favor, such an order would likely subject DHS to conflicting instructions regarding the same program, increasing the likelihood the Supreme Court would have to hear the case this summer.

Prior to the Trump administration filing its brief siding with the plaintiff states, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) had been permitted by the court to intervene in the case to defend DACA on behalf of a number of individual DACA recipients. The State of New Jersey has also sought to intervene in defense of DACA.

State and Local

Texas DPS Sharing Records with Federal Immigration Authorities

According to a June 11 report by the Houston Chronicle, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has been sharing the names of at least hundreds of motorists who have received traffic citations over the past two years. According to the report, Texas DPS has provided these citation lists to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since August 2016, to aid in the deportation of undocumented traffic offenders.

Under the policy, a product of an arrangement between DPS and ICE, DPS provides federal authorities a monthly list of names of individuals charged offenses for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving without a license. The lists do not include immigration status, but ICE is able to obtain that information through running the names through ICE databases. The lists became public knowledge in litigation concerning a disputed traffic stop that led to the defendant’s deportation.

Advocates have expressed concern that the policy could undermine public safety by undermining community trust between immigrant communities and DPS. Some have also expressed concern about the specter of racial profiling, although DPS asserts the list takes no account of race, gender or ethnicity.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

There were no immigration or workforce related government reports published during the week of Monday, June 11, 2018.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Discharge Petition on Dreamers: An Explainer

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.

Bill Analysis: Securing America’s Future Act (SAFA Act)

This is a brief analysis of the Securing America’s Future Act, which would provide temporary relief for some Dreamers, but would dramatically transform our immigration system in several levels, reducing legal immigration by 25 to 40 percent, criminalizing illegal presence in the U.S., increasing border security and interior immigration enforcement, revising the agricultural guest worker program, and mandating E-verify for all employers.

Op-ed: To Succeed Economically, We Need Sound Immigration Policies — Not Scare Tactics

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, published this op-ed about immigration enforcement’s impact on the workforce and the economy in The Hill.

Economic Contributors: Refugees Are a Fiscal Success Story for America

This article is part of a series examining the role immigrants play in our labor force and the contributions they make to our economy. Over three million displaced people have relocated to the United States since 1975 and today, U.S. efforts to resettle refugees fulfill an important humanitarian mission while also providing significant economic benefits to the country. The paper finds that refugees are an incredibly valuable economic and fiscal resource. They work hard in needed jobs, start their own businesses, spend money in local economies, and help revitalize struggling communities.

* * *

*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Laurence Benenson, National Immigration Forum Assistant Director for Immigration Policy and Advocacy, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Laurence can be reached at lbenenson@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.

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