BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
Border’s Unused Idle and Lying Dormant Inventory Transfer Act (BUILD IT Act)
The bill would require the federal government to transfer to any state, upon request, any unused material associated with the construction of barriers along the Southwest border.
Sponsored by Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) (5 cosponsors— 5 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
05/24/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Ernst
05/24/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Lifting Immigrant Families through Benefits Access Restoration Act of 2022 (LIFT the BAR Act)
The bill would restore access to public programs for lawfully present immigrants by removing a five-year waiting period and other restrictions preventing immigrants from accessing benefits.
Sponsored by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) (9 cosponsors— 8 Democrats, 1 Republican)
05/25/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Hirono
05/25/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Finance
Reverse Entry for Migrant Offenders and Violence Expulsion (REMOVE) Act
The bill would clarify that any immigrant convicted of kidnapping or sexual abuse should be subject to deportation. It would also deny the issuance of any type of visa to any person convicted for those crimes.
Sponsored by Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) (4 cosponsors— 4 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
05/26/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Thune
05/26/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
A bill to support remediation of illicit cross-border tunnels
Sponsored by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) (5 cosponsors— 3 Democrats, 2 Republicans)
05/26/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Cornyn
05/26/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
DHS Transnational Criminal Investigative Units Supplemental Pay Act
The bill would authorize Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to pay stipends to members of Transnational Criminal Investigative Units who have been properly vetted. This is a companion bill of S. 4326.
Sponsored by Representative Andrew Garbarino (R-New York) (8 cosponsors— 8 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
05/18/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Garbarino
05/18/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
Venezuelan Adjustment Act
The bill would authorize the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to adjust the status of Venezuelans residing in the U.S. to that of aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence.
Sponsored by Representative Darren Soto (D-Florida) (1 cosponsor— 1 Democrat, 0 Republicans)
05/19/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Soto
05/19/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
Protect Vulnerable Immigrant Youth Act
The bill would exempt Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) beneficiaries from numerical visa limitations.
Sponsored by Representative Jimmy Gomez (D-California) (5 cosponsors— 5 Democrats, 0 Republicans)
05/19/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Gomez
05/19/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, June 6, 2022.
The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Tuesday, June 7, through Friday, June 10, 2022.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
Dates: Wednesday, June 8 and Thursday, June 9, 2022 (House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittees)
Location: 2118 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
Biden Administration Begins Implementation of New Asylum Rule
On May 31, the Biden administration began implementation of a new rule intended to improve and expedite the processing of asylum claims at the border. The rule allows U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asylum officers to adjudicate asylum applications of certain recent border-crossers, alleviating the immigration court case backlog and lessening the wait time for migrants to have their cases heard. The administration intends to slowly roll out the processing change across the border, and it is currently only being used for migrants taken to two Texas-based processing facilities.
Under the rule, asylum seekers at the border who pass initial “credible fear interviews” are placed in non-adversarial, expedited asylum adjudication processes conducted by asylum officers. The rule also establishes a rapid timeline for each stage of the new process, which has led some advocates to raise concerns that asylum seekers will be unable to retain meaningful access to legal representation.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas stated that the new asylum rule will guarantee that “individuals who qualify for asylum will receive protection more swiftly, and those who are not eligible will be promptly removed rather than remaining in the U.S. for years while their cases are pending.”
The asylum rule has faced opposition from the courts and from some congressional lawmakers. On May 26, Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) invoked the Congressional Review Act to introduce a resolution of disapproval against the rule, which failed to pass after a largely party line, 48-46 vote (Senator Joe Manchin was the only Democrat to support the resolution, and several senators were not present for the vote). Additionally, the new asylum rule faces an ongoing court challenge from the Attorneys General of Texas and Arizona.
Biden Administration to Host Summit of the Americas, Discuss Hemispheric Migration Strategies
From June 6 through 10, the United States will host the Ninth Summit of the Americas. The summit, which will be attended by presidents and prime ministers from most of the 35 nations of the Americas, aims, among other things, to cooperatively tackle the root causes of irregular migration.
On June 1, in a press briefing about U.S. priorities for the summit, a spokesperson for the State Department said that the heads of state would sign a declaration to address the unprecedented increased migration in the region. He further stated that “migration is a symptom of a much broader challenge brought on by the economic and security challenges that the hemisphere has been facing for the last couple of years.”
According to a June 1 Axios report, the Biden administration intends to announce a significant responsibility sharing agreement at the summit, including commitments from Spain and Canada to resettle more refugees from the western hemisphere.
Ukraine Parole Program Receives Over 45,000 Applications in First 39 Days
According to a June 3 CBS News report, a recently launched private sponsorship parole program for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion has already received over 45,000 applications. As of June 1, over 27,000 Ukrainians have been authorized for travel and 6,500 have arrived in the U.S. under the program.
The program, which launched on April 25 and is known as Uniting for Ukraine (U4U), is an effort to bypass the slow-moving refugee resettlement system and instead offers two years of humanitarian parole to eligible Ukrainians. Parolees are protected against deportation and eligible to apply for work authorization but, unlike refugees, they are not offered a clear path to permanent status in the U.S. The program relies on private sponsorship and requires sponsors to be based in the U.S. and to be able to financially support the parolees for the duration of their parole.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is adjudicating Uniting for Ukraine applications at a rate much faster than for other programs, which often take months or years to complete. According to a DHS official, the process is moving quickly because unlike other applications it is “end-to-end electronic” and requires no paper records. USCIS has reportedly trained 300 employees to adjudicate U4U applications.
USCIS Reaches Supplemental H-2B Cap for Returning Workers
On May 31, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it had received enough petitions to fill the 23,500 supplemental H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for returning workers that had been added to the existing ceiling for the second half of Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. In March, USCIS announced it would raise the H-2B ceiling by 35,000 to help meet workforce needs, allocating 23,500 for returning H-2B workers, and 11,500 for nationals of Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. In the announcement, USCIS encouraged employers still in need of labor to refile for workers from the Northern Triangle, as that supplemental allocation has not yet been reached.
The H-2B visa program is used by a wide range of U.S. employers who have temporary work needs, including those in the landscaping, forestry, tourism, hospitality, food processing, and construction industries. In order to be approved by the Department of Labor, prospective H-2B employers must prove that no U.S. workers are available to take the job, and they must offer wages comparable to what U.S. workers might be paid.
President Biden Commences National Immigrant Heritage Month with Proclamation
On May 31, President Biden issued a proclamation officially declaring June 2022 as National Immigrant Heritage Month. In the proclamation, Biden stated “the United States is a Nation of immigrants — shaped by the courageous people from around the world who leave their homes, lives, and loved ones to seek refuge and opportunity on our shores.” Biden also committed to “use every tool at our disposal to ensure that immigrants feel safe, valued and protected” and to “breaking down barriers to United States citizenship for all eligible candidates.” The proclamation also highlighted the essential contributions of immigrants, noting they “fuel our economy and work in every profession, including health care, public service, law, education, engineering, construction, caregiving, manufacturing, service, agriculture, and countless other industries.”
Report Shows that U.S. Consulates Are Denying 61% of Employer-Sponsored Immigrant Visas
On June 1, a Cato Institute report revealed that U.S. consulates denied 61% of employment-sponsored immigrant visas in 2021. According to the report, the high rates of State Department denials contrasts with far lower denial rates (4%) for employment-based green card applicants from within the U.S. In addition, the report states that the high State Department denial rate pushes some immigrants to apply for different temporary numerically capped visas and others to attempt to cross the border without authorization.
Fifth Circuit Schedules Oral Arguments on DACA Case for July 6
On May 27, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled oral arguments for July 6 on Texas v. USA, a case concerning the legality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides protections for certain young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.
The case stems from a July 16, 2021, ruling from District Court Judge Andrew Hanen in which he held that DACA was unlawful, granted a permanent injunction vacating the original 2012 DACA memorandum, and prevented USCIS from approving new DACA applications. Hanen made two arguments in his ruling, reasoning first that DACA failed to follow formal notice and comment rulemaking processes under the Administrative Procedures Act, and second that DACA is inconsistent with statutory immigration law set forth under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
However, noting the reliance interest of current DACA recipients, Hanen temporarily stayed the injunction for those who had DACA at the time of the ruling, allowing them to continue to receive and renew protections.
In addition to appealing the decision to the Fifth Circuit, DHS has also proceeded with rulemaking to formalize DACA an effort to satisfy the APA-related procedural objections raised by Hanen. The proposed rule to preserve DACA was published in the Federal Register in September 2021. Public comments on the proposed rule closed in November 2021, with DHS receiving 15,931 comments and submissions during the period. Under the APA, the federal government is required to review every comment and submission before issuing a final rule. It is anticipated that a final rule may be published in the spring or summer of 2022.
State & Local
Massachusetts Governor Baker Vetoes Bill that Allows Undocumented Immigrants to Receive Driver’s Licenses
On May 27, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker vetoed a bill that would allow undocumented residents to receive driver’s licenses. The bill would require undocumented immigrants seeking a license to demonstrate their identity and provide evidence of their residency in the state. Baker’s veto is unlikely to prevent the bill from becoming law, as it cleared both chambers of the Massachusetts legislature with wide enough margins to clear the two-thirds vote threshold required to override a gubernatorial veto.
If the bill becomes law, it is expected to benefit over 200,000 undocumented immigrants in the state. Massachusetts would join 16 other states and the District of Columbia which already have similar laws allowing undocumented immigrants to access driver’s licenses.
Congressional Research Service (CRS), “Legal Sidebar: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Authorities and Procedures,” June 1, 2022
This CRS legal sidebar provides a brief overview of USCIS’s authorities and procedures to adjudicate immigration benefits.
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES
This explainer describes the current state of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, discussing the ongoing attempts to scale back or end the program in the courts and the current administration’s attempts to preserve the program.
This explainer highlights the elements of the Uniting for Ukraine (U4U) program which provide Ukrainian citizens who fleeing Russia’s aggression opportunities to come to the U.S. as parolees.
This resource provides 42 sustainable, effective border solutions that are not Tile 42. The 42 solutions are broken up into three categories — border processes, root causes, and border security.
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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. Arturo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.