Legislative Bulletin – Friday, June 7, 2019

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.R. 6

American Dream and Promise Act

This bill would provide Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and individuals with Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) with protection from deportation and an opportunity to stay in America if they meet certain requirements.

Sponsored by Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-California) (232 cosponsors – 0 Republicans, 232 Democrats)

03/12/2019 Introduced in the House by Representative Roybal-Allard

03/12/2019 Referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary and on Education and Labor

05/22/2019 House Judiciary Committee passes the Dream Act of 2019 (H.R. 2820) by a 19 to 10 vote and the American Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 2821) by 20 to 9 vote

06/03/2019 House Rules Committee combines H.R. 2820 and H.R. 2821 into H.R. 6 and reports the bill to the House

06/04/2019 House rejects a Motion to Recommit H.R. 6 by a 202 to 221 vote

06/04/2019 H.R. 6 passes the House by a 237 to 187 vote

H.R. 3056

A Bill to Provide Supplemental Appropriations Relating to Border Security, and for Other Purposes

Sponsored by Representative Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) (7 cosponsors – 7 Republicans, 0 Democrats)

06/03/2019 Introduced in the House by Representative Rogers

06/03/2019 Referred to the House Committees on Appropriations and on the Budget

S. 1733

Protecting Immigrant Families and Improving Immigration Procedures Act

The bill would attempt to address the current situation along the Southern border by hiring an additional 75 immigration judges, prohibiting the separation of families at the border except in limited circumstances to protect the children, cementing the Flores Settlement Agreement that prevents prolonged immigration detention of children, and providing counsel to unaccompanied migrant children (UACs) in their immigration court hearings, among other provisions.

Sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) (3 cosponsors – 0 Republicans, 3 Democrats)

06/05/2019 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Feinstein

06/05/2019 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR

The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, June 10, 2019.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session from Monday, June 10, 2019 through Thursday, June 13, 2019.

UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS

The Secure and Protect Act: A Legislative Fix to the Crisis at the Southwest Border

Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. (Senate Judiciary Committee)

Location: 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Witness:

Kevin K. McAleenan, Acting Secretary, Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK

Federal

House Passes Dream and Promise Act, First Successful Measure in the House to Protect Dreamers in Almost 10 Years

The House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) on June 4 by a 237 to 187 vote. This marks the first time since 2010 that the House passed a measure to protect Dreamers from deportation and provide them an opportunity to stay in America and earn legal status if they meet certain requirements. The bill also provides Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and individuals with Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) with an opportunity to earn permanent legal status in the U.S. if they meet certain requirements. Seven Republicans joined the 230 House Democrats who were present in support of the legislation.

The measure passed after the House rejected a Motion to Recommit by a 202 to 221 vote. The Motion to Recommit, a procedural tool generally used to stop a bill right before its passage, would have added language to the bill on suspected gang affiliations. House Democrats believed the motion was a poison pill aimed at stopping the bill from final passage.

On June 5, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said the American Dream and Promise Act would “probably not” receive a vote in the Senate. McConnell noted that Dreamers “have a sympathetic case” and “[t]here are circumstances under which I and others would be happy to support that,” but said a measure must include other aspects of the immigration system “on the legal immigration side and on the illegal immigration side that need to be addressed.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) praised the bill’s passage and said the Senate “ought to take decisive action on this critical issue.” Immigration advocates noted the bill’s passage provides an opportunity for Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to find a bipartisan solution.

The day before the House vote, on June 3, the Supreme Court declined a Department of Justice (DOJ) request to consider a lower court’s ruling blocking President Trump’s decision to terminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Supreme Court is still likely to weigh in on the legality of the termination in 2020.

Businesses, Lawmakers Express Opposition to Tariffs as Mexico-U.S. Discussion Continues

U.S. business groups and lawmakers expressed opposition this week to President Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on all products from Mexico to the U.S., starting with a five percent tariff on June 10. In response to President Trump’s plan, Mexican President Manuel Andres Lopez Obrador sent a delegation of senior Mexican officials to Washington, D.C. to discuss a possible diplomatic solution that may include changes to both countries’ asylum processes and additional border enforcement.

The business community reacted in almost immediate opposition to the tariffs, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups noting that the tariffs would be paid by American consumers and companies, and jeopardize North American supply chains. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce indicated Texas would be the state most impacted by the tariffs, followed by Michigan, California, Illinois and Ohio.

On June 4, Republican Senators met with White House officials to discuss the tariffs. Republican Senators reportedly warned the White House that they were almost universally opposed to the plan. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) warned that an overwhelming majority of the Senate would be willing to vote to block the tariffs and could potentially override a presidential veto of a congressional resolution blocking them. During the meeting, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called the tariffs a $30 billion tax increase on Texans and told the White House officials to “take a message back…[that] you didn’t hear a single yes” from Republican Senators. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) also expressed their opposition to the tariffs, and Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) compared the tariffs to “holding a gun to our own heads.” However, some Republican Senators, including Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Rick Scott (R-Florida), indicated they would support President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on Mexican products.

Mexican and U.S. officials are involved in ongoing discussions around asylum and border enforcement to avert the imposition of the tariffs. The Mexican and U.S. governments are considering changes in asylum rules that would allow the U.S. to reject asylum requests from Central American migrants by requiring that they seek asylum in the first foreign country they enter after leaving their homes. Under this proposal, Guatemalan migrants would have to request asylum in Mexico and migrants from El Salvador and Honduras would have to request asylum in Guatemala. Mexican officials are also considering an expansion of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, also known as “Remain in Mexico,” that requires asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their cases proceed in the U.S. Mexico also pledged to send about 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexico-Guatemala border to boost its border enforcement in the region.

A White House official said on June 7 that the discussions with Mexico have “proceeded very favorably,” though White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said their position “has not changed, and we are still moving forward [with the tariffs] at this time.”  On June 3, Mexico warned that it is exploring possible retaliation with tariffs on selected U.S. goods if no deal is reached by the time the tariffs on Mexican products go into effect.

Border Apprehensions Reached 13-Year High in May, Congress Mulls Emergency Border Supplemental

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced on June 5 that the number of migrants apprehended along the Southern border increased to nearly 133,000 in May, a 34 percent increase from April and the highest monthly figure since March 2006. The uptick was driven largely by an increase in the number of migrant families and unaccompanied migrant children (UACs) coming to the U.S.-Mexico border. The Border Patrol apprehended nearly 85,000 family members, a 44 percent increase from April and a historic high, and about 11,500 UACs, up nearly 30 percent from April. CBP deemed an additional 11,400 migrants “inadmissible” at a port of entry in May, bringing the total number of individuals taken into its custody  to about 144,000. While the number of apprehensions remains below the peak periods of the early 2000s, border officials argue the changing demographics of migrants coming to the U.S. are overwhelming a system that was originally set up to quickly process and remove single, adult men.

Congress is expected to advance an emergency funding bill in June in response to the current situation at the Southern border. The Trump administration originally sent Congress a $4.5 billion emergency supplemental request, which included $3.3 billion in humanitarian assistance and $1.1 billion for so-called border operations, including additional beds in ICE detention facilities. The request was dropped from a larger disaster relief package in late May, but congressional leaders agreed to discuss the supplemental in June. A number of House Democrats, including members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), reportedly told House Democratic leaders they oppose any additional funding for DHS without strict conditions. House Democratic leaders reportedly plan to limit the emergency supplemental funding to humanitarian aid, mostly for families and UACs, but some House Democrats are skeptical the funds would not be transferred for constructing a border barrier and ramping up immigration detention beyond current record levels. Representative Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), chairman of the CHC, said that a supplemental must have “guard rails around any money so that it’s used for humanitarian relief and it’s not diverted.”

HHS Cancels Educational, Recreational and Legal Aid Programs for Migrant Children

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is suspending educational, recreational, and legal aid programs for migrant children in custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), stating the agency lacks the funding to continue such programs. HHS instructed ORR facilities on May 30 to start cutting costs budgeted for educational and recreational activities, including staff associated with those costs. Since then, HHS has begun discontinuing numerous activities – including English language lessons and recreational soccer – that are deemed “not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety.” HHS asked Congress in May for an additional $2.9 billion in ORR emergency funding citing concerns the agency’s funding to house migrant children might run out in late June.

Child welfare and immigration advocates criticized the plan to end services, arguing costs have been driven up because ORR is holding migrant children for longer periods of time instead of releasing them to families or friends. Advocates also noted that the plan to end services violates the Flores Settlement Agreement, which sets the standards for the detention of migrant children and requires the government to provide educational and recreational programs for the children. Lawmakers also criticized the plan, with Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Florida) arguing that migrant children are already “going through tremendous suffering.”

On June 7, ORR announced it will open a new large temporary facility to hold as many as 1,600 migrant children in Carrizo Springs, Texas to deal with the increase in migrant children coming to the Southern border. The facility is considered an emergency shelter and is in a complex that formerly housed oil field workers in public land near the border. ORR is also weighing using Army and Air Force facilities in Georgia, Montana and Oklahoma to house an additional 1,400 migrant children.

Acting ICE Director Says Agency Plans to Target Migrant Families for Deportation

Mark Morgan, Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), stated on June 4 that the agency is preparing to move forward with its plan to apprehend thousands of migrant families in communities across the U.S. to deter Central American migrants from coming to the Southern border. The plan would have ICE carry out orders for arrest and deportations of migrant families in 10 large U.S. cities. The DOJ already fast-tracked many of those cases, obtaining thousands of removal orders and referring them to ICE. Most removal orders were issued when migrant parents failed to appear in immigration court, despite concerns that many migrants do not receive adequate instructions on when are where to go for their immigration court hearings.

The plan was originally under consideration earlier this year before it was blocked by former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former ICE Acting Director Ronald Vitiello, who claimed they needed more time and preparation to conduct the effort. Nielsen and Vitiello resigned from their positions in April.

Senate Republicans Predict Cuccinelli Cannot Win Senate Confirmation

Republican Senators indicated on June 4 that Ken Cuccinelli, the former Attorney General of Virginia and President Trump’s choice to lead U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is unlikely to win Senate confirmation if he is formally nominated to serve as USCIS director. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) said that Cuccinelli is in “an odd position…to seek Senate confirmation” and is “unlikely…to be confirmed if he is nominated” because he spent part of his career leading the anti-establishment Senate Conservatives Fund, which attacked Senate Republicans in primary elections. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) also reiterated his “lack of enthusiasm” for Cuccinelli. A number of Senate Republicans are reportedly hoping to persuade President Trump not to formally nominate Cuccinelli, but Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) predicted Cuccinelli will be installed at the end of the day in an acting role to avoid a fight with Senate Republicans. However, there are legal questions as to whether Cuccinelli can be immediately appointed to serve as acting director of the agency.

Cuccinelli’s elevation came after President Trump ousted Francis Cissna as Director of USCIS, in part because the White House thought he was not moving fast enough on the administration’s immigration enforcement priorities. Cuccinelli has expressed support for the controversial Arizona SB 1070 immigrant law, called for an end to birthright citizenship, and has called for a larger role for the U.S. military along the border. At the moment, every leadership position at DHS related to immigration is filled by individuals in an acting capacity.

DHS OIG Releases Reports on “Dangerous,” “Egregious” Conditions in Detention Facilities

The DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report on May 30 that found “dangerous overcrowding” and unsanitary conditions at the El Paso Del Norte Processing Center (PDT) in El Paso, Texas, stating that the situation requires immediate action. The report found migrants being held in “standing room only conditions” for days or weeks, with some “standing on toilets in the cells to make room and gain breathing space.” The facility, which has a maximum capacity of 125 migrants, logged “approximately 750 and 900 detainees, respectively” on May 7 and 8. One cell with the capacity to hold 35 individuals had 155 people. The report also found Border Patrol managers were reportedly concerned about the “high incidence of illness” among Border Patrol agents as a result of the crowded conditions, as well as decreasing employee morale. The report declared that “corrective action is critical to the immediate health and safety” of the migrants and the Border Patrol agents. The report followed an unannounced inspection to the facility in May.

DHS OIG also released report on June 3 that found “egregious” conditions at four ICE detention facilities following a set of unannounced inspections. The report states there were “immediate risk or egregious violations of detention standards” at the facilities, including nooses in detainee cells, overly restrictive segregation, inadequate medical care, unreported security incidents, strip searches with no documented justification, and significant food safety issues. In once facility, the kitchen had expired food and open packages of raw chicken leaking blood over the refrigeration units. ICE responded by saying it has resolved or worked to resolve the issues flagged by the DHS OIG since the visits.

Also on June 3, reports surfaced that in July 2018 about 37 migrant children between 5 and 12 years old were held for at least 23 hours in vans outside an ICE detention facility while they waited to be processed and reunified with their parents. The last child left the vehicle 39 hours after they arrived at the facility.

Legal

Judge Denies Request from House Democrats to Block Transfer of Funds to Build Barriers Along the Border  

A federal judge on June 3 denied a request by House Democrats to block President Trump from transferring and spending approximately $6.1 billion from appropriated accounts to construct barriers along the Southern border. U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden ruled that the court did not have the authority to resolve a funding dispute between Congress and the executive branch. McFadden said that “[w]hile the Constitution bestows upon members of the House many powers, it does not grant them standing to hale the executive branch into court claiming a dilution of Congress’s legislative authority.” McFadden, a Trump nominee confirmed by the Senate in 2017, noted the case presents “a close question about the appropriate role of the Judiciary in resolving disputes between the other two branches.” He suggested that the House could utilize the appropriations process to respond to executive actions without assistance from the judicial branch.

On May 24, a separate federal judge blocked the Trump administration from transferring nearly $1 billion in Defense Department counter-drug funds to build barriers along the Southern border.

Judge Postpones Ruling on Whether to Sanction Administration Officials Over Census Citizenship Question

On June 5, a federal judge in New York postponed a decision on whether to sanction officials in the Trump administration for misconduct related to their testimony and false statements regarding the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census. U.S. District Court Judge Jesse Furman said he would need to see a more formal motion before deciding on whether to issue the sanction. Furman set a deadline of July 12 for the plaintiffs to request a more extensive briefing, with the government response due July 26. However, the Supreme Court is expected to weigh in by the end of June on whether the citizenship question can be added to the census, dashing the plaintiffs’ hopes that Furman would issue a ruling before the Supreme Court decision.

The plaintiffs asked Furman to consider sanctions based on new evidence suggesting that officials in the Trump administration may have misled the court about the origins of the census citizenship question. Files discovered in the personal belongings of Thomas Hofeller, a Republican redistricting strategist who passed away in August, included a 2015 study in which he determined that a citizenship question to the census could give an electoral advantage to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites, as well as documents indicating that in 2017 Hofeller helped the Trump administration craft an argument for adding the question to the census. Furman said he understood the seriousness of the issues presented, but said he lacked “authority to do anything with respect to the merits of the case” in part because the hearing was supposed to “largely focus on the issue of process rather than substance.”

In addition, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, announced in a letter on June 3 that the committee would vote to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for failing to comply with a bipartisan subpoena for documents related to the addition of the citizenship question to the census. The letter allowed Barr and Ross to comply with the request by June 6, but both secretaries failed to provide the required documents. Cummings said on June 7 that the committee will move forward on a contempt vote next week.

GOVERNMENT REPORTS

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG): Management Alert – DHS Needs to Address Dangerous Overcrowding Among Single Adults at El Paso Del Norte Processing Center (Redacted), May 30, 2019

This document notifies DHS leadership about the “dangerous overcrowding conditions at the El Paso Del Norte Processing Center (PDT),” stating the situation requires immediate attention and action. The DHS OIG found that the PDT is unable to accommodate the number of migrants currently being held at the facility, with individuals being held in standing-room only conditions for days or weeks. The document describes the need for corrective action as critical to the immediate health and safety needs of migrants in the facility and Border Patrol agents.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG): Concerns About ICE Detainee Treatment and Care at Four Detention Facilities, June 3, 2019

This report summarizes the DHS OIG’s findings from unannounced inspections at four Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities. DHS OIG found “immediate risk or egregious violations of detention standards” at the facilities, including nooses in detainee cells, overly restrictive segregation, inadequate medical care, unreported security incidents strip searches with no documented justification, and significant food safety issues, including expired food.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG): Semiannual Report to the Congress (October 1, 2018 – March 31, 2019), June 5, 2019

This report to Congress provides an overview of the DHS OIG’s work and oversight during the first six months of fiscal year (FY) 2019, including information on audits, inspections, and investigations conducted during the reporting period.

U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO): Immigration Enforcement: Actions Needed to Better Handle, Identify, and Track cases Involving Veterans, June 6, 2019

This GAO report reviews issues related to the deportation of noncitizen U.S. veterans. The report found that ICE does not consistently consider a veteran’s service record before deporting them or track how many veterans have been placed in removal proceedings and/or deported.

SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES

Bill Summary: Secure and Protect Act of 2019

This is a summary of Senator Lindsey Graham’s (R-South Carolina) Secure and Protect Act of 2019 (S. 1494), which would override the Flores Settlement Agreement and amend the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). In addition, the bill would require asylum seekers to apply for protection at refugee processing centers in Central America and Mexico, and provides for the hiring of new immigration judges.

Infographics: Dreamer and TPS Recipient Contributions

These infographics focus on the contributions of Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders in 13 U.S. states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Fact Sheet: Expedited Removal

This fact sheet provides an overview of expedited removal, a procedure that allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to rapidly deport certain non-citizens without an immigration court hearing or other appearance before a judge. The fact sheet also examines potential regulatory changes to expedited removal under consideration by the Trump administration.

* * *

*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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