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Legislative Bulletin — Friday, June 30, 2023

Welcome to the National Immigration Forum’s weekly bulletin! Every Friday, our policy team rounds up key developments around immigration policy in Washington and across the country. The bulletin includes items on the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, as well as some coverage at the state and local levels.

Here’s a breakdown of the bulletin’s sections:

DEVELOPMENTS IN IMMIGRATION THIS WEEK

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

DEVELOPMENTS IN IMMIGRATION THIS WEEK

Immigration policy is a dynamic field subject to constant change. Here, we summarize some of the most important recent developments in immigration policy on the federal, legal, state, and local levels. 

Content warning: This section sometimes includes events and information that can prove disturbing. 

Federal 

DeSantis Announces Controversial Immigration Platform Amid Presidential Bid 

On June 26, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) unveiled his first detailed policy platform for his 2024 presidential bid

DeSantis’s sweeping proposal includes a challenge to birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants and the resumption of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), where asylum seekers were forced to wait in Mexico — often in dangerous situations — between their U.S. immigration court hearings. Other major planks include building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border and a mass detention and deportation regime. 

In addition, in remarks, DeSantis has recently proposed using lethal force against suspected drug traffickers, raising concerns that in practice migrants or asylum seekers who have nothing to do with the drug trade could also be negatively affected. 

“Of course you use deadly force,” DeSantis said from Eagle Pass, Texas. “If you drop a couple of these cartel operatives trying to do that, you’re not going to have to worry about that anymore.” 

House Passes Resolution Condemning Use of Schools As Migrant Shelters 

On June 22, House lawmakers passed a resolution condemning the use of elementary and secondary school grounds as migrant shelters amid protracted battles over where migrants and asylum seekers should be temporarily lodged when they arrive in crowded cities like New York. 

The resolution does not change existing law, but it does give a platform to criticism of both New York City Mayor Eric Adams and the Biden administration for their immigration policies.

“Make no mistake, Democrats are making elementary, middle, and high schools a battleground for chaotic border policies,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx (R —North Carolina). 

Opponents of the resolution, meanwhile, said it perpetuates harmful stereotypes and targets asylum seekers with ongoing immigration court cases. Given that public schools are often used as shelters during emergencies, they also wondered why some lawmakers were using the resolution to single out migrants staying there specifically as a problem. 

It’s Republicans spending time — and taxpayer dollars — to trot out stereotypes of migrants as dangerous and dirty and who knows what else,” said Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Illinois).

Although the resolution is non-binding, a separate bill — the Schools Not Shelters Act — similarly targets schools and colleges that shelter migrants and is advancing in the House.

Legal

Supreme Court Reads Immigration Law Narrowly in Free Speech Challenge 

On June 23, the Supreme Court upheld a narrow interpretation of the 1986 federal immigration law that criminalizes encouraging or inducing unauthorized immigration to the United States, overturning an earlier Ninth Circuit decision that had struck down those provisions for violating free speech. 

In United States v. Hansen, the Supreme Court held in a 7-2 majority that the “encourage or induce” law “forbids only the intentional solicitation or facilitation of certain unlawful acts” — a reading that assumes complicity in criminal conduct, not general exercises of First Amendment rights. 

“The Supreme Court has drastically limited the encouragement provision to apply only to intentional solicitation or facilitation of immigration law violations,” said Esha Bhandari, deputy director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. “As written by Congress, the law has left people wondering what they can safely say on the subject of immigration. Now we expect the government to respect free speech rights and only enforce the law narrowly going forward.”

Still, Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson and Sonia Sotomayor dissented, arguing that the court should have struck down the law because of the potential limitations on the First Amendment. 

“Ordinary people confronted with the encouragement provision, for instance, will see only its broad, speech-chilling language,” Jackson wrote

The Supreme Court’s decision is a win for the Biden administration, which had argued that the federal government relies on the 1986 law to prosecute smugglers who encourage migrants to cross the U.S.-Mexico border unlawfully. 

State and Local

Immigrants Concerned As New Law Takes Effect in Florida

On July 1, Florida’s restrictive new immigration law, SB 1718, takes effect, causing uncertainty and angst for undocumented communities and key industries across the state.  

The new law sets aside an additional $12 million for Gov. Ron DeSantis’s controversial migrant relocation program, restricts the use of driver’s licenses for certain noncitizens from other states, increases criminal penalties around transporting undocumented immigrants, and requires hospitals that accept Medicaid to ask patients about their immigration status. It also requires businesses with 25 or more employees to use the E-Verify system.

Rick Roth, a Republican state legislator in Florida, has said that the law is “purposely meant to scare people a little bit,” and its passage has made some immigrants feel they have little choice but to leave their homes and move to different states, including Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington. 

David Guerra and his family left behind their home, working equipment, children’s toys, and business because of the new law. They fled to Maryland, where Guerra has struggled to find work but says he is at least treated better. 

“It hurt, it hurt to have to throw everything out,” he told Telemundo News. “It’s a humiliation what they did, to take you out, like a rat.”

Others in Florida’s immigrant communities fear what will happen to them and are struggling to decide their next move. Meanwhile, protesters are participating in a weeklong work stoppage to show how the state losing its immigrant workforce could have devastating impacts on its economy. 

BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED

It can be challenging to keep up with the constant barrage of proposed legislation in Congress. So, every week, we round up new bills. This list includes federal legislative proposals that have recently been introduced and that are relevant to immigration policy. 

Please follow this link to find new relevant bills, as well as proposed legislation from past weeks.

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives will not be in session from Monday, July 3 through Friday, July 7, 2023. 

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

Here, we round up congressional hearings and markups happening in the field or in Washington. 

There are no relevant hearings or markups announced for the week of July 3, 2023.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Reports by bodies such as the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Research Service, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General provide invaluable information on immigration policy and practice. Here, we give brief summaries of new immigration-related reports, with links to the resources themselves in case you want to learn more. 

Congressional Research Service (CRS); Increasing Numbers of Unaccompanied Children at the Southwest Border; Updated June 28, 2023

This report provides detailed analysis around the record-high levels of encounters with unaccompanied migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent years. It also explains which U.S. agencies interact with these kids and in what capacity.

Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (OIG); Results of Unannounced Inspections of CBP Holding Facilities in the Yuma and Tucson Areas; Published June 23, 2023

This report documents the results of unannounced inspections at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities around Yuma and Tucson, including inconsistencies with the management of detainee property that were at times out of line with operating procedures. 

Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman; 2023 Annual Report to Congress; Published June 30

The report outlines some of the most significant issues that individuals and employers encountered this year when seeking immigration benefits from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It also provides recommendations for how USCIS can address these problems and improve its administrative processes.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

The Forum is constantly publishing new policy-focused resources that engage with some of the most topical issues around immigration today. Here are a few that are particularly relevant this week: 

Five Solutions to Reverse the Declining Popularity of the U.S. Among International Students

This paper delves into five policy solutions that would reverse declines in U.S. popularity as a destination for international students and solidify the leading position of the U.S. as a welcoming scholastic destination.

Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act of 2023: Bill Summary

This bill summary details provisions in the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act, including key differences between the House and Senate versions. 

Florida’s Immigration Enforcement Legislation: Five Key Concerns

This resource provides key information about the legislative package Republican lawmakers in Florida introduced on March 7, 2023.

* * *

*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Alexandra Villarreal, Policy and Advocacy Associate at the National Immigration Forum, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Alexandra can be reached at avillarreal@immigrationforum.org. Thank you.

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