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Legislative Bulletin – Friday, June 22, 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

S. 3036

Keep Families Together Act

This bill would prohibit Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials from separating children from their parents at or near the U.S. border, except in limited circumstances involving the child’s welfare. This is a companion bill to H.R. 6135.

Sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – California) (48 cosponsors – 0 Republicans, 46 Democrats, 2 Independents)

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

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

S. 3084

A Bill to Require the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of Health and Human Services to Allow Members of Congress to Tour Detention Facilities that House Unaccompanied Alien Children

Sponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley (D – Oregon) (2 cosponsors – 0 Republicans, 2 Democrats)

06/18/2018 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Merkley

06/18/2018 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

S. 3091

Protect Kids and Parents Act

This bill would require children and their parents apprehended at or near the U.S. border while requesting asylum to be incarcerated together in family detention centers and provide for an expedited asylum process that would give asylum seekers 14 days to show they meet the legal standards to seek asylum protection in the U.S. In addition, the bill would add 375 new immigration judges and authorize new temporary shelters specifically for family detention.

Sponsored by Senator Ted Cruz (R – Texas) (21 cosponsors – 21 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

06/19/2018 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Cruz

06/19/2018 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

S. 3093

Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act

The bill would allow children and their parents apprehended at or near the U.S. border to be incarcerated together in family detention centers for longer periods of time while they undergo their legal proceedings. It would also set some minimum standards of care for family detention centers and authorize 225 new immigration judges to more quickly address asylum cases.

Sponsored by Senator Thom Tillis (R – North Carolina) (32 cosponsors – 32 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

06/20/2018 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Tillis

06/20/2018 Placed on the Senate’s Legislative Calendar

H.R. 4760

Securing America’s Future (SAF) Act

This bill would dramatically transform America’s immigration system by reducing legal immigration to the U.S. by up to 40 percent, criminalizing illegal presence in the U.S., providing $38 billion in border security funding and increasing interior immigration enforcement, among other concerning provisions. The bill would also provide a temporary, three-year renewable status with strict eligibility requirements for some Dreamers.

Sponsored by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R – Virginia) (99 cosponsors – 99 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

01/10/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Goodlatte

01/10/2018 Referred to the Committees on the Judiciary, Education and the Workforce, Homeland Security, Foreign Affairs, Ways and Means, Armed Services, Oversight and Government Reform, Agriculture, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Natural Resources.

06/20/2018 Reported by the House Rules Committee and sent to the House floor

06/21/2018 Voted in the House, failed by a 193 to 231 vote

H.R. 6134

Equal Protection of Unaccompanied Minors Act

The bill would allow children and their parents apprehended at or near the U.S. border to be incarcerated together for longer periods of time as a mechanism to address the issue of family separation. It would also remove protections for migrant children by tightening the “credible fear” standard for asylum and allowing them to be returned more expeditiously to their home country, among other provisions.

Sponsored by Representative Mark Meadows (R – North Carolina) (8 cosponsors – 8 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

06/19/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Meadows

06/19/2018 Referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary and on Foreign Affairs

H.R. 6135

Keep Families Together Act

This bill would prohibit Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials from separating children from their parents at or near the U.S. border, except in limited circumstances involving the child’s welfare. This is a companion bill to S. 3036.

Sponsored by Representative Jerrold Nadler (D – New York) (194 cosponsors – 0 Republicans, 194 Democrats)

06/19/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Nadler

06/19/2018 Referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary and on Homeland Security

H.R. 6136

Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018

The bill would remove protections for migrant children and allow them to be incarcerated for longer periods of time, reduce legal immigration to the U.S., add border security measures (including funding of almost $25 billion), increase interior immigration enforcement, make it more difficult for asylum seekers to request asylum and provide some Dreamers and certain children of immigrants with work visas with a path to U.S. Citizenship.

Sponsored by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R – Virginia) (10 cosponsors – 10 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

06/19/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Goodlatte

06/19/2018 Referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary, Homeland Security, Agriculture, Natural Resources, Transportation and Infrastructure, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, the Budget, and Oversight and Government Reform.

06/20/2018 Reported by the House Rules Committee and sent to the House floor

H.R. 6181

A Bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to address the protective custody of alien children accompanied by parents, and for other purposes.

Sponsored by Representative Rick Crawford (R – Arkansas) (0 cosponsors)

06/21/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Crawford

06/21/2018 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 6182

A Bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to codify President Trump’s “Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation Executive Order,” and for other purposes.

Sponsored by Representative Jeff Duncan (R – South Carolina) (0 cosponsors)

06/21/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Duncan

06/07/2018 Referred to the Committees on the Judiciary and Armed Services

H.R. 6190

A Bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to address the protective custody of alien children accompanied by parents, and for other purposes.

Sponsored by Representative Daniel Webster (R – Florida) (0 cosponsors)

06/21/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Webster

06/21/2018 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R. 6173

A Bill to amend section 235 of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 to clarify the standards for family detention, and for other purposes.

Sponsored by Representative Stephen Knight (R – California) (0 cosponsors)

06/21/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Knight

06/21/2018 Referred to the Committees on the Judiciary and Homeland Security

H.R. 6183

A Bill to require the Secretary of Homeland Security to reunite unaccompanied alien children with the parents or legal guardians with whom they entered the United States, and for other purposes.

Sponsored by Representative Bill Huizenga (R – Michigan) (0 cosponsors)

06/21/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Huizenga

06/21/2018 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

H.R.___

Central America Family Protection and Reunification Act

This resolution would prevent separation and promote reunification of Central American families by attempting to address root causes of child migration through efforts by the State Department.

Sponsored by Representative Eliot Engel (D – New York) (50 cosponsors – 0 Republicans, 50 Democrats)

06/22/2018 Introduced in the House by Representative Engel

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, June 25, 2018.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, June 25, 2018 to Thursday, June 28, 2018.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Executive Session

This meeting will include consideration of a bill to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, an effort to improve the academic achievement of career and technical education students in America, including immigrants.

Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at 2:30 p.m. (Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee)

Location: 430 Dirksen Senate Office Building

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

Questions Surround Trump Executive Order on “Family Unity;” Unclear How Separated Children Will Be Reunited

On June 20, facing increasing pressure over family separation, President Trump issued an executive order stating that it is “the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity.” The order would emphasize family detention in the place of family separation, providing for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to detain families together during both criminal and civil proceedings relating to immigration offenses and prioritizes the adjudication of cases involving detained families.

While President Trump promised that “we are going to keep the families together,” the ultimate impact of the order is uncertain. Many questions exist whether on when this new policy will begin to take effect, how it can be implemented, whether there is enough funding to implement it, and whether there is legal authority to support it. Critics have raised significant concerns over the level of remaining uncertainty, particularly regarding the fate of the 2,300 children who have already been separated and for the proposed large-scale use of family detention rather than other alternatives.

Since the issuance of the order, uncertainty has continued over what will happen to children who were previously separated from their families – HHS initially said children would not be promptly returned before President Trump subsequently issued a general order directing DHS, HHS and the Justice Department (DOJ) “to work together . . . to reunite these previously separated groups.” Beyond the general guidance it remains unclear how and when reunification would be accomplished. On June 21, the ACLU announced it will be filing a lawsuit seeking a court order requiring the immediate return of separated children. The White House claimed on June 22 that about 500 of the more than 2,300 children separated from their families have been reunited.

There also has been confusion over the status of the “zero tolerance” policy for criminally charging immigration offenders, with the executive order and subsequent statements from DOJ reiterating that the policy remained in place, but federal officials issuing conflicting information  as to whether it would be paused or discontinued.

In accordance with the executive order, on June 21, DOJ filed a request in federal court to modify the Flores Settlement Agreement, which places limits on the ability of federal immigration authorities to detain children, including in family detention. The request would permit the federal government to hold children beyond the existing 20-day limit and to hold that existing state licensing requirements do not apply to family detention facilities. The Trump administration says it is currently honoring existing Flores requirements, but it is unclear what steps the administration will take if the court declines the request to modify.

Also in accordance with the executive order, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced on June 21, that it was preparing to provide housing for up to 20,000 unaccompanied children and possibly children with families. The executive order required DOD to “take all legally available measures to provide . . . any existing facilities available for the housing and care of alien families” to DHS and even “construct such facilities if necessary and consistent with law.” DOD and DHS may face funding and legal constraints in standing up large-scale immigration detention at military facilities, which may require action by Congress or lead to litigation.

Family Separation Continues to Draws Criticism; Administration Continues to Defend Policies

Trump administration policies that led to the separation children from their parents at the U.S. border continued to draw strong criticism this week. The Trump administration sought to defend the policy for most of the week, while President Trump blamed Congress, and in particular Democrats, for family separations occurring as a result of his administration’s “zero tolerance” policy to criminally prosecute all undocumented immigrants apprehended along the U.S. borders.

As criticism mounted on June 18, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen joined the White House press briefing to defend the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy. Nielsen said that DHS had no choice but to separate families and the only way the practice could end would be through congressional action, despite the fact that the practice is not required by law. As Nielsen spoke at the press briefing, a reporter in the briefing room played an audio recording that captured the sound of immigrant children crying in a detention facility after being separated from their parents at the border. Meanwhile, President Trump argued that the policy could be stopped only if Democrats in Congress agreed to adopt certain immigration measures – including the construction of a border wall and limits to legal immigration. President Trump also accused Democrats of encouraging undocumented immigrants to “infest” the U.S.

Outrage on the family separation policy intensified over the course of the week, continuing even after the issuance of the executive order addressing the issue. Members of Congress and state leaders, including a significant number of Republicans, increasingly called on the administration to halt family separations. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) noted that the White House “can fix it if they want to – I don’t think there’s any question about that.” Others, mostly Democratic members, requested tours of the detention facilities where the children are held. In addition, Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Representatives Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina) and Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) introduced different pieces of legislation to address the family separation issue.

In response to the “zero-tolerance” policy, faith leaders continued to voice their opposition to family separation, including Pope Francis and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS).

All four living former First Ladies spoke out against the resulting family separation at the border. Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama voiced their opinions on the matter, calling it “a shame to our country” and “a moral and humanitarian crisis.” Most notably, Bush published a piece in the Washington Post on June 17 where she urged the administration and Congress to “do better.”

At the same time, more details emerged about the government’s family separation policy. The Trump administration has reportedly set up at least three “tender age” facilities to detain young children under the age of five who were separated from their parents, many of them so young they have not learned to talk. The Trump administration is also reportedly considering holding children who have been separated from their parents in “tent cities,” which are more expensive than keeping the children together with their parents, and preparing four military bases to shelter as many as 20,000 migrant children.

On June 22, two days after issuing his executive order, President Trump questioned the validity of reports on family separation, accusing Democrats of spreading “phony stories of sadness and grief.” Later in the day, he appeared at a press event with family members of people killed by undocumented immigrants, President Trump attempted to deflect criticism for his administration’s policies that led to family separation along the U.S.-Mexico border, instead highlighting those deaths and what he characterized as “permanent” family separations.

Goodlatte Bill Fails, Ryan Postpones Vote on GOP Immigration Bill

The House rejected Representative Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Virginia) restrictionist Securing America’s Future (SAF) Act on June 21 by a 193 to 231 vote, with 41 Republicans joining all Democrats in opposition to the bill. After the vote, House Republican leaders announced they would postpone a scheduled vote on Republican leadership’s Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018 (BSIRA) until the week of June 25, once it became apparent that bill lacked support to pass.

The SAF Act, which ostensibly sought to protect DACA recipients, would have dramatically transformed America’s immigration system by reducing legal immigration to the U.S. by up to 40 percent and criminalizing unlawful presence in the U.S., among other provisions. A large number of moderate Republicans in the House opposed the bill. While the SAF Act failed, the rule used to bring the bill to the House floor effectively ended Rep. Denham’s (R-California) Queen of the Hill discharge petition.

The Republican leadership’s bill, crafted to some degree with the input of moderate Republicans leading the discharge petition effort and Freedom Caucus members, was scheduled to come up for a vote later that same day, but the vote was delayed first to Friday, June 22 and eventually to the following week. Republican leaders argued that they needed the additional time in order to give more lawmakers a chance to review the bill and help build support for the measure. The Republican Conference met for two hours on the evening of June 21 to discuss the bill. After the meeting, some members suggested the bill’s sponsors may add mandatory E-verify and agricultural guest worker provisions to the bill to build support for the legislation. On June 22, President Trump stated that Republicans in the House “should stop wasting their time on Immigration [sic] until we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November,” potentially discouraging House Republicans from supporting the bill.

The bill includes a new points-based pathway to citizenship that would allow a minority of Dreamers – only 18 percent by one estimate – and some children of legal immigrant workers to get permanent residency and eventually U.S. citizenship. House Republicans have also touted the bill as halting family separation at the border, but critics note that it merely takes steps to expand family detention indefinitely, increase expedited removals of children and make it harder for asylum seekers to request asylum. The bill does not reverse the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that has resulted in significant increases in family separation in recent weeks. The bill also includes almost $25 billion in funding for border measures and increases interior immigration enforcement.

Homeland Security Appropriations Moves Forward in Senate as President Threatens Government Shutdown

The Senate Appropriation Committee passed by a 26 to 5 vote the Homeland Security Appropriations Act for fiscal year (FY) 2019, even as President Trump reportedly threatened on June 18 to shut down the federal government if Congress does not allocate $25 billion to build a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.  The committee’s bill provides DHS with $55.2 billion, including $1.6 billion to construct approximately 65 miles of pedestrian fencing in the Rio Grande Valley. Yet, President Trump has reportedly expressed frustration to Republican and White House officials that Congress is likely to provide only $1.6 billion, not the entire $25 billion he wants to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

As part of the discussion around family separation, the committee approved an amendment introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) to study alternatives to detention (ATDs), including determining which are most effective. The amendment passed by voice vote with no opposition.

Poll: Republicans, Democrats Choose Immigration as their Top Issue

According to a new survey commissioned by the Pew Research Center released on June 20, immigration is the number one issue  Republican and Democratic voters want to hear about in 2018. The survey shows that about 21 percent of Republicans and 18 percent of Democrats think about immigration as their most important issue in 2018, a greater number than those who mentioned the economy or healthcare. Based on the survey, Republican voters or those who lean Republican were slightly more likely to mention immigration as their most important issue than Democrats.

State & Local

Governors Withdraw Plans to Send National Guard to the Border over Family Separation

Multiple governors, including at least two Republicans, withdrew plans this week to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border over the issue of family separation at the border. Governor Larry Hogan (R-Maryland) noted that Maryland would no longer deploy any National Guard resources to the border “until this policy of separating children from their families has been rescinded.” Governor Charlie Baker (R-Massachusetts) also withdrew plans to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border stating, “the federal government’s current actions are resulting in the inhumane treatment of children.”

In addition, Governors Bruce Rauner (R-Illinois) and Pete Ricketts (R-Nebraska), who have not announced plans to withdraw National Guard resources, voiced their opposition to the Trump administration’s policies leading to family separation, with Ricketts noting that “children should not be separated from their families.”.

Other governors who withdrew plans to send National Guard troops to the border include those from New York, North Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Colorado, and Pennsylvania.

Virginia Governor Orders Probe into Abuse Allegations in Shenandoah Detention Facility

Governor Ralph Northam (D – Virginia) ordered a state investigation on June 21 into reports that at least six immigrant children detained in the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Detention Center were physically and mentally abused. The children, some as young as 14, allege that they were subject to “unconstitutional conditions, including violence by staff, abusive and excessive use of seclusion and restraints, and the denial of necessary mental health care,” as well as “excessive force” and at times left nude in solitary confinement in concrete cells.  A former employee of the facility also spoke of children who spoke of abuse from the guards and showed signs of physical abuse. The children were sent to Shenandoah Valley in partnership with the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (ORR) Unaccompanied Alien Minor Services (UCS) program for detained children who need “secure placement.” The facility was built in Staunton, Virginia by a coalition of seven nearby town and counties in areas to provide secure placement for children. The affected children came to the United States as unaccompanied minor and were not children recently separated from their families under recent Trump administration policies.

Senators Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) asked the Trump administration on June 22 to provide answers about the facility’s operations, including whether regulators had received any past complaints involving the facility.

ICE Apprehends 146 Workers in Ohio Plant

On June 19, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided Fresh Mark, a meat-packing plant in northeast Ohio, arresting 146 employees who were suspected of working in the U.S. without authorization. The immigration raid was the largest in a decade and follows two previous large-scale raids this year, with 114 arrested in Ohio earlier this month and 97 arrested in Tennessee on April 5. ICE sent over 100 agents to enact this raid, which is the culmination of a year-long investigation into the plant.

The raid follows comments by ICE acting-Director Thomas Homan from last year, in which he pledged to increase workplace raids and target employers that hire undocumented immigrants.

Legal

Mother Reunited with 7-Year-Old Boy Taken by the Government at the Border

Justice Department lawyers told a federal court on June 21 that the government would reunite a 7-year-old Guatemalan boy with his mother after they were separated for more than a month since they crossed the U.S. border on May 19 to request asylum. On the morning of June 22, the mother and her the 7-year-old boy were reunited at the Baltimore Washington International Airport.

The mother, Beata Mariana de Jesus Mejia-Mejia, sued the Trump administration after she and her son requested asylum to Border Patrol agents near the Arizona border on May 19. Her lawsuit alleges that the government violated constitutional guarantees of due process and deprived her of her child’s “care and custody” when she was separated from him. Mejia-Mejia said Border Patrol agents took her son, who was “screaming and crying,” and did not tell her why they took him or provide updates about her son’s whereabouts while she was in detention. DOJ lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman to wait to make any rulings in the case until the government reunited Mejia-Mejia with her son and promised to give an update to the court by noon on June 22. Friedman agreed to postpone further action on the case until then. A ruling on the case could have national implications for the Trump administration’s policy to separate children from their parents at the U.S. border.

The government’s pledge to reunite Mejia-Mejia with her son came less than 24 hours after President Trump issued an executive order in response to family separation, though the executive order does not direct the government to reunite children already separated from their parents.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

There were no immigration-related government reports published on the week of Monday, June 18, 2018.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Border Security and Deferred Action Recipient Relief Act: Bill Summary

This is a summary of the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018 (H.R. 6136), a bill developed by Republican leadership, moderate Republicans leading the discharge petition effort and Freedom Caucus members as part of the negotiations on an immigration bill that would address the situation of Dreamers. The wide-ranging, over 300-page bill would provide some Dreamers and certain children of immigrants with work visas with a path to U.S. Citizenship. The bill would also remove protections for migrant children and allow them to be incarcerated for longer periods of time, reduce legal immigration, and add border security measures (including funding of almost $25 billion), among other concerning provisions.

Dreamer Provisions in the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018

This document provides a detailed summary of the Dreamer-related provisions in the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018 (H.R. 6136), including the requirements to obtain contingent nonimmigrant status and the point-based system under the bill for Dreamers to adjust to lawful permanent resident status.

Fact Sheet: Family Separation at the U.S.-Mexico Border

This fact sheet provides an overview of the issue of family separation at the Southern border, including information on whether family separation is required by law (it is not) and on the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) “zero-tolerance policy” to prosecute all individuals crossing the U.S. borders without authorization.

How we can follow our Laws at the Border – and still be a Nation of Grace

This op-ed by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, explains why family detention is not the best alternative to family separation.

Securing America’s Future (SAF) Act Bill Section-by-Section Analysis

This is a section-by-section analysis of the Securing America’s Future (SAF) Act (H.R. 4760), introduced by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R – Virginia) on January 10, 2018. The wide-ranging bill would dramatically transform America’s immigration system by reducing legal immigration to the U.S. by up to 40 percent, criminalizing illegal presence, providing $38 billion in border security funding and increasing interior immigration enforcement, among other concerning provisions. The bill would also provide a temporary, three-year renewable status with strict eligibility requirements for some Dreamers.

* * *

*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Christian Penichet-Paul, National Immigration Forum Policy and Advocacy Associate, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Christian can be reached at cpenichetpaul@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.

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